105 Ways to Give a Book

Smiles to Go

Smiles to GoJerry Spinelli seems to operate on levels of “Off.” There’s Stargirl Off, where the character is unusual but everything around her seems pretty normal. There’s Loser Off, where you’re looking in on a life from some odd, detached viewpoint. Then there’s Eggs Off, where elements of the book make you feel like you must not be getting the point.

Smiles to Go is an Eggs Off kind of book. It starts with the least useful jacketflap notes ever:
“What is stargazer, skateboarder, chess champ, pepperoni pizza eater, older brother, sister hater, best friend, first kisser, science geek, control freak, Will Tuppence so afraid of in this great big universe? Jerry Spinelli knows.”
Well, I wish he’d tell me because I read the book and I’m still not sure. Will seems to be afraid of the destruction of the universe in a time so far past our own time that it is unfathomable. He sees flashes of light, like the flash of the proton going out of existence — but whether he really sees them is unclear. It’s kind of a coming-of-age story, kind of a sibling story, kind of a feeling-insignificant story, with a touch of the surreal.

I don’t know that I’m the right person for this book. And I think that there is a right person. I’d be curious to see what others took away from it. Anyone?

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