While I can't easily say that I loved, loved, loved My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp, I can say--and quite easily--that I really, really liked it. Why? Because it was funny and it reminded me, in a good way, of Richard Peck. First, I do enjoy historical fiction. Historical fiction was probably my very first favorite genre before I even knew what "genre" meant. So, it doesn't take much convincing or persuading to get me to pick up historical fiction. Second, I do love to read, and, I've never been what you would ever call a reluctant reader. So my really, really liking a book doesn't mean it's right for your reluctant reader who hates history. That being said, I think there are plenty of appealing things about it.
The narrator, Stan, has a very unique, quite quirky voice. He is trouble-prone. He is always, always, always getting into trouble: whether it is actual, physical trouble, or, if he's just saying something he really should keep to himself. The book is just one comedic episode after another.
The basic plot: Stan's world is turned upside down by a recent move. Him and his mom have moved in with his aunt, uncle, and Granny, not to mention his girl-cousin, Geri. He is helping out his family by helping them cook and serve food to the lumberjacks in camp. (His job really isn't to cook so much as it is to help serve and clean up.) He doesn't particularly like wearing an apron, but, he likes even less wearing one of his granny's stockings once his own socks go missing. After all, he's recently decided that he must be a manly-manly man and be respected by one and all and recognized as a GROWN UP. But he is just eleven. And he isn't the brightest kid ever, and, you might say he's anxious and gullible, never, a good combination if you don't want to be teased by one and all. Still, despite all his mistakes--and he makes plenty--you can't help but like him.
I enjoyed the characterization. I did. Not every character is equally developed. But all of them are almost equally entertaining and/or interesting. Take, Granny, for example. She was a hoot. Not that I want her for MY granny, mind you. But still, one can't help but snicker as Stan keeps track of just "how evil" Granny is. She starts off, I believe, 99% evil, and, towards the middle, she shockingly becomes just 57% evil, I believe, but can she stay that way?! Another favorite character of mine was "Sneaky Pete" (aka Mr. McLachlan). I really, really couldn't help just LOVING him and I'm not exactly sure why. Sure, he's in plenty of scenes, but, Stan himself doesn't particularly like, trust, or respect him for most of the book. But readers--at least this reader--saw through Stan's narration and saw things as they really were. Mr. McLachlan is A GOOD GUY. And I hope that his mom gets a happy ending, she deserves it!
So the book is definitely a coming-of-age story...and it just worked for me.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews