Last post, I asked for boy book recommendations – I’ve got one to recommend to you.
I finished my work project this weekend and then I finally slept. Sunday night I went to bed at 8:00 p.m. and popped up at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, but I was still that sick kind of groggy, so I hung out in bed and started reading a new book. Just in Case by Meg Rosoff. I read that book in an hour and a half and cried for about half that time.
This 15 year old kid, David Case, has a baby brother who almost falls out of the window trying to fly. The near-miss shocks David into a nervous breakdown, realizing that life is a series of near-misses and believing that fate has marked him for doom. He begins a mission to hide from fate, changing his name to Justin – a tougher sounding name. (And the jarring coyness of naming your character Justin Case is one of the few missteps Meg Rosoff makes here.). In changing his style, he meets an older girl who is capable of using Justin for her own needs, photographing him in the midst of tragedy to further her career, but not capable of saving him from his madness.
Or maybe it’s not madness. Maybe he is marked for disaster. People die around him. Planes crash where he stood minutes before. Maybe fate is playing a game with Justin, just to see how he’ll react.
If the characters in Just in Case are often archetypes, like the distant parents and the distracted teachers at school, Rosoff has populated Justin’s world with spiritual guides, too. His best friend Peter and Peter’s little sister, Justin’s own baby brother, these participate in Justin’s inner world while trying to draw him back to them. Trying to communicate enough understanding and solidarity to keep Justin from simply giving up and letting fate win.
For Justin, the radical act of defying and respecting fate is to decide that he will live. With whatever time he’s allowed, he’ll live it. So good.