April 05, 2006

Earth Day... and Stuff

There's a good chance that nobody takes the environment as seriously as they should, not even serious environmentalists. It's hard to know what to worry about and how to save what is left on the earth, and how to encourage others to get serious about keeping the air and water clean. YA author Gail Gauthier introduces us to a character who doesn't even know he's supposed to try to do all that stuff in Saving the Planet & Stuff.

Michael Peter Racine the Third (MP3 to his friends) is having a bad summer. The job he had lined up with his uncle's landscaping service has folded, and his uncle is in trouble for passing bad checks. Michael isn't particularly driven to find something else to do -- his best skills involve email and Instant Messaging -- but he's bored, he's broke, and worst of all, everyone around him is doing something great -- and thinks he got fired. His best friend Jonathan is interning as a paleontologist on a dig, while his other friend, Chris, is a counselor at a swanky East Coast art camp - with girls! Michael is desperate to do anything -- anything -- to keep from being seen as a humiliated, summer-job-losing doofus. When opportunity knocks, Michael is ready.

Earth's Wife is a magazine that Michael has seen (but never read!) around the house for years. His grandparent's college friends, Walt and Nora, started the environmentalism paper in the turbulent 60's, and the magazine -- and its editors -- are something of a family joke. Poppy, MP3's grandpa said they used newsprint in their magazine so that avid recyclers could use the pages as toilet paper. Gram says the Earth's Wife people only eat vegetables, and think eating animals is immoral. None of this fazes Michael as he leaps at the chance to intern at The Earth's Wife magazine for the summer. Composting toilets? No problem. Meatless meals? You can make vegetables taste like chicken, right? But solar showers and soy meat turn out to be the least of Michael's worries, however. There's something going on at the magazine. Politics, infighting and backstabbing are the game of the day, and Michael worries that nice Nora and cranky Walt are from too far in the past, and don't have any idea how to relate to the real world in the 21st century.

It's up to Michael to save the day.

Environmentally sensitive YA readers may not like this book, as Gauthier kind of makes fun of we earnest, non-leather wearing, tofu-eating types, but this is a fast paced, humorous look at a first summer internship position for college-bound teens, and all the drama that goes with it.

No comments: