The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

>> Monday, July 20, 2009

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet is the last of the books I added to use as an exemplars for my major research paper on fiction for emerging adults (18 - 25 year olds). I had intended to use Slam! by Nicholas Hornby, but was never as enthusiastic about it (it was originally published in the U.K. not in Canada - and there were rather too many similarities between it and one of the other novels I am using, Having Faith in the Polar Girls Prison by Cathleen With - not that the two books are really all that similar - but both deal with teenage pregnancy).

So when The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet was suggested as one which fit in with what I'm doing, I happily accepted a copy and now, having read it, have decided to use it.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet was written by Reif Larsen and is about 12 yo T.S. a genius mapmaker who wins an award and fellowship at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He does not go to his parents (Dad's a rancher not into all the science stuff, Mom's a self-absorbed scientist) or even to his supposed mentor (who is the person that nominated him for the award) but rather sets out on his own, hobo-ing his way there by train.

The book is unique in that it provides maps, diagrams and other assorted materials in its margins, and also includes a secondary work supposedly written by T.S.'s mother. I found these bits somewhat challenging at first - I have attention issues so a novel which includes its own distractions can be a bit frustrating - but soon discovered that they were well worth exploring and really did add a great deal to the experience of reading The Selected Works.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
is, as Stephen King calls it, "a treasure", and has a great deal to offer; I did, however, find the ending of the book to be rather a disappointment; Dad shows up and they run away through secret tunnels presumably heading for home, the end. Fortunately, it wasn't the ending that made the experience worthwhile though - clearly, in this novel, it is the journey that matters.


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