June 16, 2014

Now Reading: BREAKFAST SERVED ANYTIME by Sarah Combs

I haven't done a "Now Reading" post in a while. I was planning to do more of these—blog posts that happen mid-read, just reactions and thoughts and free-form writing about a book I'm currently enjoying.

Right now I'm reading Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs. First of all, how could I resist a book that's about the narrator attending summer Geek Camp at a local university? I went to Geek Camp way back when. In my case (believe it or not), it was the Total Immersion Science Program and the novelty of staying in a college dorm for two weeks was only slightly dulled by the fact that said college (University of California Riverside) was approximately 5 minutes' drive from my house. Anyway, the book's narrator, Gloria, has been selected for Geek Camp at University of Kentucky, and so the book is imbued with the sort of atmosphere and setting-specific detail that makes me think of my lovely writing friend Gwenda and her equally lovely Kentucky accent.

Her Geek Camp is for the full summer, and she has already chosen her major—Secrets of the Written Word, with the mysterious professor X. (No, not THAT Professor X.) With only three other students and just a few mysterious paper clues to lead them through their first few days, Gloria's wondering what she's in for, but as a quirky, artistic sort of soul who believes in the meaningfulness of small things and coincidences, she's willing to wait it out and see. In the meantime, she forms unique bonds with not only her roommate (as a pageant brat, decidedly different from Gloria) but her three fellow classmates in her major, all of whom are just as quirky. The characterization is wonderful in this book—characters are believable not only on a surface level (I can readily visualize them) but they also have depth and seem very real and individual. Tiny, dark-haired Chloe, who has an unholy love of France. Quiet, thoughtful Calvin. And then there's Mason, who at first annoys the holy hell out of Gloria, but he too has unplumbed depths.

There is a lot of humor in this book—the humor of everyday situations. And there's a lot of magic, too—again, the magic that happens to us on a day to day basis that we don't always notice. The author does a nice job with both. It took a little time for me to feel connected to the narrator, which I think was an issue of voice…at first, it felt a little too…maybe…Too perfect? Edited? Witty? I don't know, but after the first chapter or two the narrative voice seemed to feel more natural, either because it grew on me or because it settled into a more natural pattern. Truly, the narrator is quite hilarious and charming and relatable, even when she's being cringeworthy, especially if you were that quirky girl growing up. And now I'm very eager to find out what's going to happen by the end of this coming-of-age summer at Geek Camp. For me, two weeks didn't teach me a huge amount, other than a) resentment at not having gotten either of my 2 choices of major, and b) figuring out I didn't want to study Plant Cytogenetics. So my vicarious experience needs satisfying, people! On to the end…

You can find Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs online, or at an independent bookstore near you!

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