The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee: 02/13/16
The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg was originally published in Australia as My Life as an Alphabet which is frankly a better title given that each chapter is themed on a different letter of the alphabet as it relates to the main character's life.
This book reminds me of all things like the tween version of Illywacker by Peter Carey with a seasoning of Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater. I know what you're thinking; I didn't like the Pinkwater book. Well, here's the same premise presented in a clever and humorous way that I do like.
Candice Phee is an odd ball. She is what my third grade teacher would have called "divergent." That's not to say she belongs in two factions at once or somehow failed the test run by post apocalyptic Chicago, but she's definitely not one of the "normal" kids. Fortunately she has a teacher who understands this and has given her extra time to do her A to Z "about me" assignment.
The assignment's supposed to be one sentence to maybe one paragraph per letter. You know like: A is for artist; I like to paint. My favorite medium is acrylic. B is for books; I run a book blog and am a librarian. And so forth. Except for Candice she needs chapters to fill each letter and, as you can imagine, the resulting work is the book I'm reviewing.
So the Illywhacker / Boy from Mars mash-up comes from the boy Candice befriends. He claims to be from an alternate universe. His story is this: he was climbing a tree, fell out, and somehow ended up switching places with this universe's version. Though his "parents" do notice a change in his personality they think it's from the head trauma he received. Now as someone who has read and seen Picnic and Hanging Rock and was a fan (up until the last season) of Fringe, I am willing to take the boy's word at face value. So, interestingly, is Candice and she decides to help him get home.
To say I loved this book would be an understatement. It's going on my very short lists of books I want to re-read multiple times.