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Carpe Diem Part Deux Review

August 24, 2007

Okay, okay, I know you guys are thinking what the heck is Gayle doing re-reviewing something that Trisha’s already reviewed, doesn’t she read the blog and know that it’s been said and done?  Well, I just wanted to weigh in with my review of Carpe Diem in addition to Trisha’s wonderful review.

One of the opportunities that I had while growing up was to take trips with my parents during the summer.  Although my parents weren’t as eccentric or artistic like Grandma Gerd, my experiences overseas no doubt were comparable to that of the protagonist Vassar Spore.  *Think here my dad eating the Peruvian delicacy–guinea pig better known to me as one of my childhood pet’s distant cousin– while my brother chanted “Purry Curry, Purry Curry” said pet’s name.*  So I was elated that there was finally a book that seemed targeted to the market of those who like to think globally and experience different cultures.  Carpe Diem nicely fills this unfilled niche. 

Some of you may be wondering how Carpe Diem differs from 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson and I have one word for you that epitomizes the difference: Durian.  For those of you who are not familiar with Durian it’s THE fear factor fruit of Asia.  I capitalize it although technically it’s not a proper noun because I fear it so much.  Autumn Cornwell captures traveling to Southeast Asia so well that I could feel the humidity creeping up on my skin as I read about Vassar’s foibles.

So here’s the top five reasons I’m going to give you to read Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell:

1. 2 out of 2 Young Adult Librarians who’ve read it highly recommend it;

2. Reading Carpe Diem is like taking a mini-vacation to Southeast Asia sans the humidity;

3. You’ll fall in love with Hanks the Chinese cowboy even before Vassar realizes his chops are glued on;

4. Opium Den: what do I mean?  Read the book to find out!

5. Autumn Cornwell’s debut novel will no doubt leave you wanting more so carpe diem and LIM (live in the moment)!

And Trisha forced Gayle to include this in her review wants to add: Yes, go and read this book! I’ve been meaning to rewrite my review of Carpe Diem because I know I didn’t do it justice. So, thanks Gayle! Anyway, did I mention it was funny? And that it has one of the most unusual (in a non-paranormal way) romantic interests I can recall reading? And that most of the book takes place in Southeast Asia? If that’s not enough, between the family dynamics, humor, romance, personal growth, and friendship, there’s something for everyone here, and for the most part, each aspect develops and resolves satisfactorily. Even though I didn’t like Vassar, I can see why people may sympathize with her more than I did. Yet as unlikeable as I found her, Vassar is still a great character and I like the book so much precisely because I found her unlikeable. The book might still have worked had she been more likeable, but I wouldn’t have finished it with the same sense of satisfaction, and I doubt I’d find it as memorable.


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