Cover image for Life an exploded diagram
Title:
Life an exploded diagram
Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Haven, Mich. : Brilliance Audio, p2011.
ISBN:
9781455829002

9781469282589
Physical Description:
8 sound discs (8 hr., 58 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Series:
Candlewick on BrillianceAudio
Language:
English
General Note:
Unabridged.

Compact discs.
Abstract:
In 1960s Norfolk, England, seventeen-year-old Clem Ackroyd lives with his mother and grandmother in a tiny cottage, but his life is transformed when he falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy farmer in this tale that flashes back through the storiesof three generations.
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CD Book PEET, M. LIFE 1 .CIRCNOTE. 8 compact discs
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Summary

Summary

Clem, a working-class boy living in government-assisted housing, and Frankie, the daughter of a wealthy landowner, must keep their relationship secret. If it's discovered, their world will be blown apart.

But unknown to them, President John F. Kennedy and the Russian leader, Nikita Khruschev, are shaping up to do just that--blow the world apart--as the two leaders fight over a small island in the Caribbean Sea, leading up to the events that will later be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For Frankie and Clem, "time, like everything else, is against them."

In his most brilliant and ambitious novel yet, Mal Peet portrays the shattering power of love and the ricocheting effect of war through generations.

"Witty, super-smart, heartbreakingly generous, it's so good, you almost want to keep it a secret." -Patrick Ness, author of the award-winning Chaos Walking series

" Life: An Exploded Diagram is Mal Peet's finest work to date, by turns hysterically funny, sad, poignant, bitter, and rude, but always with that unfakeable sense of deep truth." -Anthony McGowan, author of The Knife That Killed Me

"A new novel by Mal Peet is always something to be eagerly anticipated: finely drawn characters, ambitious storytelling, a broad historical canvas, piercing social critique--and now, much more than in previous novels, a delightfully irreverent streak of humor." -Jonathan Hunt, blogger for School Library Journal's Heavy Medal blog

"An astonishingly engaging, wonderful, un-put-downable book. His gorgeous writing makes one reread sentences over and over again for the pure joy of experiencing the language." -Carol Stoltz, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA


Summary

When working-class Clem Ackroyd falls for Frankie Mortimer, the gorgeous daughter of a wealthy local landowner, he has no hope that it can. After all, the world teeters on the brink of war, and bombs could rain down any minute over the bleak English countryside. They did seventeen years ago, as his mother, pregnant with him, tended to her garden. This time, Clem may not survive.


Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Mal Peet's memorable novel (Candlewick, 2011) juxtaposes first love between Clem, from a working class family, and Frankie, the daughter of a wealthy British landowner, against the fragility of world peace during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite their differences, they begin to explore all that young love has to offer. The novel involves three generations for whom war had a defining presence. Clem's grandmother is a World War I widow and his Mum married his Dad while he was serving in World War II. Now, Clem and Frankie's relationship is backlit with the threat of another war. Clem and Frankie finally consummate their love and, when returning to their respective homes, happen upon a land mine. They are hurt but survive, and their romance goes the way of most first loves. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Clem, who is living in Manhattan, hears from Frankie once again. Simon Vance does a superb job of voicing the variety of British dialects. His somewhat matter-of-fact reading mirrors the straightforward personality of Clem as he matures. Teens will enjoy the romantic elements of this coming-of-age novel and will gain an understanding of how love and war intersects in all of our lives.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book Review

In this fictional memoir, which spans the years 1945 to the present, Clem Ackroyd tells the story of his working-class origins and postwar Norfolk upbringing and, especially, his clandestine relationship with Frankie Mortimer, upper-class daughter of the local landowner. While in 1962 Clem and Frankie move ever deeper into love and lust, the Americans and Russians are facing off over Castro, Cuba, and nuclear missiles -- a backdrop, metaphor, and historical event that charges the plot and themes of Peet's story. This is mesmerizing through the sheer force and liveliness of its prose, as well as its unpredictable, inexorable plot. Peet's gift for imagery ("the morning rain had wandered off like a gray cat bored with a kill" or "[he had a] smile like a bad set of dentures shoved into a steamed pudding") makes the novel fizz with the intensity of an adolescent's heightened perceptions -- in which everything is alive, and even boredom is an all-engrossing activity. Place, period, and adolescent passion all come through with exuberant feeling and humor ("Chapter 25. You Learn Nothing about Sex from Books, Especially If They're by D. H. Lawrence"); Peet's subtle, literary play with narrative voice, style, and chronology make this a satisfyingly sophisticated teen novel. Outstanding. deirdre f. baker (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Guardian Review

Since 2003, Mal Peet has been quietly (too quietly, it might be argued) producing many of the finest books in young adult literature. His excellent historical novel, Tamar, won the 2005 Carnegie medal, while Exposure, a brilliant riff on Othello transposed to the world of South American football, was awarded the 2009 Guardian children's fiction prize. With Life: An Exploded Diagram, Peet has once more produced a winner: a subtle, minutely observed novel with a huge heart and a bold historical sweep. Take a big breath before you open this book. In chapter one, a suicidal Nazi pilot swoops out of the sky, inducing a premature birth in a Norfolk rhubarb patch. Four hundred pages later we've arrived in lower Manhattan on 11 September 2001, by way of a deeply affecting first love affair and an edge-of-the-seat rendering of the Cuban missile crisis. Back at the rhubarb patch, poor traumatised Ruth staggers into the house and gives birth to Clem, an intelligent, introspective boy nudged in the general direction of the middle classes via the 11-plus. At grammar school, he encounters Jiffy the art master, who wears "brutal shoes like dead dog's noses", and teaches Clem to draw. Life-drawing proves useful in Clem's seduction of the gorgeous Francoise, a convent-school refugee with a rebellious streak and a rich daddy. It is the early 1960s, and Peet paints their burgeoning affair in emotional colours vivid enough to induce a serious case of vicarious sexual longing. The author's sly humour is evident on every page, as when Clem tells us: "It's one of life's countless little cruelties that you never forget your first time." And then, just as we're getting the hang of sex in a field in Norfolk, the story pulls up and out, by means of a sort of literary Google Earth. It leaves country life for the grand tableau of the cold war and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Clem is the close-up in this huge historical scenario - employing Andrew Marvell in a desperate attempt to get his girlfriend to gather her rosebuds, preferably before the world ends. Meanwhile, the US and the USSR play who'll-blink-first in a grim battle over Cuba. And somewhere in the middle, a different sort of revolution invades the Norfolk countryside in the form of intensive farming. Somehow it all connects, thanks to Peet's cool eye, generous sensibility and fierce intelligence. It doesn't hurt that his storytelling prowess is more than a match for the lust of his young protagonists, the inner workings of JFK's war cabinet, and the gruesome conditions inside a Russian submarine, which "tipped and slewed in the water like a drowned rocking-horse" (and also happens to be carrying an atomic bomb with America's name on it). The question that will undoubtedly be raised in relation to this - and one that has been asked of Peet's work before - is whether it really belongs in the young adult section. From the unpublished writer who told me "If all else fails, I'll write a YA book", to Martin Amis's pronouncement that he'd have to be brain injured to write for children, the slight sneer that follows the category often suggests it's a sub-valid form of literature, OK for those not intelligent or mature enough for real books. Life: An Exploded Diagram is a real book, a rare treat for thoughtful readers of any age. Read it yourself. Then, if you can think of a young person with the wit to appreciate it, pass it along. Meg Rosoff's The Bride's Farewell is published by Puffin. To order Life: An Exploded Diagram for pounds 6.39 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop - Meg Rosoff Life-drawing proves useful in [Clem]'s seduction of the gorgeous Francoise, a convent-school refugee with a rebellious streak and a rich daddy. It is the early 1960s, and [Mal Peet] paints their burgeoning affair in emotional colours vivid enough to induce a serious case of vicarious sexual longing. The author's sly humour is evident on every page, as when Clem tells us: "It's one of life's countless little cruelties that you never forget your first time." The question that will undoubtedly be raised in relation to this - and one that has been asked of Peet's work before - is whether it really belongs in the young adult section. From the unpublished writer who told me "If all else fails, I'll write a YA book", to Martin Amis's pronouncement that he'd have to be brain injured to write for children, the slight sneer that follows the category often suggests it's a sub-valid form of literature, OK for those not intelligent or mature enough for real books. - Meg Rosoff.