This isn’t the most eloquent thing I’ve ever said about a book, but holy schmoly The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni is just so freakin’ cool.
Little orphan Sebastian lives with his Grandma, a Bucky Fuller groupie, in a geodesic dome in Iowa — a House of Tomorrow slash tourist destination complete with a gift shop and a sales quota. When Nana has a stroke in front of half of the visiting Whitcomb family, Sebastian gets scooped up by the broken would-be soccer mom and adopted as a friend for her son Jared, an emo social misfit with a heart transplant scar on his chest.
Nana returns to the dome a bit wonky, and her attention toward Sebastian lapses to the point that he is able to receive abusive emails from Jared and research the punk rock music Jared listens to. He can even use the phone, in an otherwise tightly monitored living situation. Sebastian plays the role of an inquisitive and socially awkward puppy who doesn’t have enough non-Bucky Fuller knowledge to be turned off by Jared’s insult-laced friendship. He soaks up the Whitcomb family’s real life — the grape soda and absentee father, the boozy experimentation and the Misfits.
Jared invites Sebastian to be in his punk band, and The Rash is born. Jared is a surprisingly good singer and decent with lyrics — including the song “Stupid School;” Sebastian struggles with the yelps, but can play a chord. They plan to rock the church talent show. Meanwhile, Jared’s sister Meredith is giving Sebastian hot pants.
I love the quirky premise and the personalities and the relationships between these characters, but it was the dialog that made me wish I’d had a more colorful childhood filled with clever insults.
Consider this moment when the comer-of-age Sebastian meets that fruity-smelling temptress Meredith:
She looked from Jared to me. “You two make the perfect little pair, don’t you,” she said. “Two little wieners.”
“Meredith,” said Jared, “could you please have your period somewhere else in this house where it won’t bother anyone?”
Did you end up kind of having a crush on snarky, lonely Jared? Because I did.
Not so much crush as verbal envy. I was jealous every time one of those kids dropped a hilarious and insulting line.
I loved Jared. He had that mix of scathing wit and musical knowledge that is really irresistible. Plus when he said he might as well grow a ponytail after writing a sad song I nearly peed my pants.