Monday, January 3, 2011

CB#1 Freak Magnet

Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon              (YA)
                I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I had picked it up at the library with a ton of other books that were sadly duds, but this one was pretty amazing. It’s the story of a motormouth astronomy nerd named Charlie, who sees a beautiful girl named Gloria and decides that he has to tell her that she’s beautiful. She’s weirded out by this and adds his name to her Freak Folio, the work of poetry and drawings she does surrounding all the strange people who approach her. I know that it seems like a pretty crappy book with only that description.
                But that’s only how they meet. That’s only the first impression you get. As the book goes on I found out a lot more about Charlie and Gloria and I grew to really love them. Charlie loves astronomy because it’s a way to escape the more difficult parts of his life. His mom has Huntington’s and is deteriorating both mentally and physically. Sometimes she just whispers random words and sometimes she swears  at him and his father, calling them pieces of shit as they try to take care of her. He lives with his head in the clouds most of the time because it’s the only way he can live. Otherwise, it’s all too much. Gloria has her own problems too. Her brother Faris was killed while serving in Afganistan and it seems like all her mother wants to do is have elaborate fundraisers for the Arab American Advocacy Council. Gloria is stuck in one place by her own grief and can’t see anything outside of it. She can’t understand that her mother is mourning in her own way and that she is consistently making things harder for her mother by pushing her away. Charlie and Gloria keep on running into each other and slowly become friends and then more.
                This was another book that I found was about the way that relationships (romantic, familial and with friends) can save your life. Sometimes your life isn’t all that great and there’s nothing that you can really do about some of the worst things. However, people can save you by distracting you, accepting you and your problems, and simply being with you. The focus in Freak Magnet wasn’t just on the (possible) young love of Charlie and Gloria, but also on the way that Charlie’s dad loves and cares for his wife, the way that Charlie’s friend Edison tries to keep Charlie from getting caught up in too much, the way that Gloria’s sister and mother are still there for each other, even though they are diametrically different.

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