the selected works of t.s. spivet

This book kept me occupied during some of the many many hours I spent in the train this last month. I loved it so much I was seriously considering not recommending it to my sister so I could take it home and put it on my shelves, instead.

That’s saying something.

One of the things I liked so much was that T.S. has a distinctly unique voice, and Larsen captures that really well. T.S. is really very smart, and you can see how that intelligence, coupled with a 12-year-old’s view of the world and just simple inexperience, causes him a lot of trouble. But you can also see all his efforts to make it better, and your heart swells and breaks with every effort he makes to communicate with those around him. At least, mine did. And if you don’t end up feeling some kind of love for this boy (and his inept  but well-meaning parents!), I’ll have to question whether you actually have a heart.

It’s a family history type book: T.S. Spivet is a highly intelligent but odd young boy (around 12, if I remember correctly) living on a farm in Montana. His mom is a scientist, his dad is a rancher, and neither know quite what to make of him. The premise of the book is pretty awesome: T.S. is a brilliant cartogopher (the book includes many of the maps – not all  of them strictly geographical in nature – that he makes. It’s a fun touch that really lets you get into his head), whose mentor secretly submits his work for a prestigious award. Without telling the awards committee that the maps were made by a boy.

When T.S. gets a call telling him he got the award, he decides to go to the Smithsonian in Washington DC (hallowed ground for him) to accept. But because he’s not quite a ‘normal’ little boy, he doesn’t tell his parents so they can take him, but sneaks away and catches rides on trains all the way there. And of course, he learns quite a bit about himself – but also about his family – along the way.

There’s a dead brother in there too – a brother accidentally killed during one of T.S.’s map-making experiments. And a sister, bored out of her mind but surprisingly compassionate. Oh, and an ancestral love story.

Enough to keep anyone occupied, I’d say.

But if you want more proof, check out this website.


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