Some of My Favorite Books

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Okey, dokey. When my daughter gave me Special Topics in Calamity Physics to read, I made a face. Unlike her, I did not major in chemistry (never even took chemistry, ever, or physics, like she had, advanced college courses, at that) and thought this looked way over my head, even though I knew it wasn't a textbook. It is fiction, but still. That name. But she said, "I think you'll like it." And I did.

Blue Van Meer and her father Gareth live their lives changing schools each year. He's a college professor and she's a senior, the year she narrates the story. The first two-thirds of the book is filled with background on their relationship, her starting her final year of high school at yet another new school, tales of the June Bugs (women Gareth dates for a minute then drops the next), and the new friends that Blue is thrust into at the invitation of a film teacher, Hannah Schneider. And it's very scholarly with references thrown in to real and probably made-up books to stuff I just don't know about. Lots of background. Lots.

But once the murder/suicide/whatever it was in the woods occurred, the book got interesting. In fact, the last two-thirds of the book flew by. Granted, I stayed up late last night and got up early and read till after 10 this morning, but I wanted to finish this book.

I won't give the plot away, but Special Topics in Calamity Physics is an interesting read that leaves you wondering, which Pessl refers to somewhere in the 514 pages--the fact that many of us dullard Americans don't like movies or books that have ambiguous endings. I don't mind them, nor did I mind this ending. I thought the whole book was totally unrealistic, of course, but an interesting read.

Have you read this book? What did you think of Blue and her father and the whole premise?

Book Read:  Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Author:  Marisha Pessl
ISBN:  0-670-03777-X

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