Sunday, November 21, 2010

Octavia Boone's Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything

Rupp, Rebecca. 2010. Octavia Boone's Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

(a booktalk)



(If you're having trouble viewing this video, try these links instead:  http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com/p/booktalks-video-and-podcasted-versions.html , http://voicethread.com/share/1524991/ )

 Vermont, seventh-grader, Octavia O'Keeffe Boone has lots of questions:
Why is there Braille at the drive-up ATM?
Is there a purpose to life?
Why is there algebra?
She lives with her dad, Boone, an artist, and her mother Ray, an environmental lawyer, always seeking a purpose in life. With her best friend Andrew, and caring neighbors, Octavia has a good life, At least she did, until her mother joins The Redeemers, a conservative Christian group that believes in strict obedience and a ban on the worldly influences of the Internet, television, public school and modern clothes.

At first, Octavia and Boone assume it’s another of Ray’s passing fancies.  But when it doesn’t pass, Octavia is forced to attend the Redeemers’ School. When the teacher asks the students to share stories about how God has helped them in their daily lives, Octavia is still asking the big questions,
Ronnie said that last Saturday he lost the money his mother had given him to go to the movies, but he asked God for help and then he found a five-dollar bill under a bush.

Marjean told how she’d lost her math homework and couldn’t find it anywhere, but she prayed and then she heard a voice in her head telling her where to look for it and she did and it was there.

What a waste of God’s time, I thought. What if he was supposed to be off taking care of starving people in Africa and instead he has to turn around and help some whiny kids find stuff?

If you're not the type to question authority, both earthly and otherwise, then this is not the book for you - for that is precisely what Octavia Boone does best. In the end, it may be that some questions just don’t have answers. And for Octavia, that just may be OK.
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A review:

Far from a rebuke of any type of belief or religion, Rupp shows that opposing belief systems can coexist, even side by side.  Octavia's friend Andrew is Buddhist and most members of their small town are Catholic. As for the Redeemers, Octavia may not like them, but Rupp takes care to humanize them and Octavia even manages to find some good in members of the Redeemers . One area of the book that was not thoroughly explored was Octavia's synesthesia.  In her case, Octavia sees colors and textures in letters and words and is particularly fond of the letter O. Perhaps her synesthesia is just another of life's unanswered questions.

A thought-provoking book that will not be for everyone, but will be just perfect for some.

Read an excerpt here.




Advance Reading Copy supplied by the publisher.  (it just took me a long time to get around to reading it)

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