Tuesday, March 8, 2011

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

Ever have one of those days where everything seems to go wrong?

Meet Ry.

He's had one of those days. And while this is a realistic fiction book, you have to suspend your belief in reality because the things that go wrong with Ry are unbelieveable in the book, As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Newbery medal winner, Lynn Rae Perkins.

So what goes wrong? 

Ry gets off a stalled train to make a cellphone call when the train takes off leaving him stranded in the middle of Montana with no food or water. He hikes to a town and along the way loses a shoe, gets a bloody nose, and a black eye. He tries calling people with the phone but no one answers. His parents are on a trip and his grandpa is taking care of him.

In town, Ry meets a nice and stubborn man named Del who decides to help him by driving him to Wisconsin to find Grandpa. Ry calls Del the "ninja cowboy fix-it man" who can repair and build just about anything. Their adventures and castrophes continue like a steam engine on full power as they become friends on their unlikely road trip.

The character descriptions in this book are fantastic. The thoughts of Ry are funny and the prose beautiful:

Ry found himself looking at the tattos on Pete's arms. There were two, one per arm.

A colorful dragon was entwined like a magnificent 2-D pet around one arm. The tip of its tail pointed at Pete's shoulder. It breathed orange and yellow flames onto his wrist. On the other arm was a coiled snake and the words DON'T TREAD ON ME. Or was it - wait - there was a t missing. Whoever had done the tattoo had left out the second "t." It would be an easy mistake to make, you might be doing one t and your mind would go on to the next letter. The words on the scroll said, DON'T READ ON ME. (p 54)

I thought the plot was messy and Lloyd's story took away from the main story (even if it was written well - I love the description of Lloyd drinking coffee on the porch.) I also got exhausted by the descriptive prose. The author has so many beautiful sentences piled on top of each other that capture the essence of the passage it slows down the reading and the pacing. For a hyperactive person like myself , it was hard for me to stick with the story when reading the slow passages - I started to skim. I probably should have put the book down and picked it up rather than read it in two sittings. I might have enjoyed it more if I had savored it slowly. Or not. I might still have been impatient for the resolution.

The book has two near death experiences for Ry, but he is such an easy-going traveler and doesn't panic that they aren't presented in a frightening way. Also, the vocabulary is going to be high for a 5th grader. To wrap up, the characters are quirky and the descriptions are beautiful but the plot was unsatisfying for me in this book.

:-) :-) :-) 3 Smileys

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