Clem, a working-class boy living in government-assisted housing, and Frankie, the daughter of a wealthy landowner, must keep their relationship secret. If it’s discovered, their world will be blown apart.
But unknown to them, President John F. Kennedy and the Russian leader, Nikita Khruschev, are shaping up to do just that—blow the world apart—as the two leaders fight over a small island in the Caribbean Sea, leading up to the events that will later be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
For Frankie and Clem, “time, like everything else, is against them.”
In his most brilliant and ambitious novel yet, Mal Peet portrays the shattering power of love and the ricocheting effect of war through generations.
“Witty, super-smart, heartbreakingly generous, it’s so good, you almost want to keep it a secret.” -Patrick Ness, author of the award-winning Chaos Walking series
“Life: An Exploded Diagram is Mal Peet’s finest work to date, by turns hysterically funny, sad, poignant, bitter, and rude, but always with that unfakeable sense of deep truth.” -Anthony McGowan, author of The Knife That Killed Me
“A new novel by Mal Peet is always something to be eagerly anticipated: finely drawn characters, ambitious storytelling, a broad historical canvas, piercing social critique—and now, much more than in previous novels, a delightfully irreverent streak of humor.” -Jonathan Hunt, blogger for School Library Journal’s Heavy Medal blog
“An astonishingly engaging, wonderful, un-put-downable book. His gorgeous writing makes one reread sentences over and over again for the pure joy of experiencing the language.” -Carol Stoltz, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
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"This is a brilliantly written book that deftly weaves together the strands of a plot that includes a love affair between two teenagers living in rural England and the tumultuous events of the Cold War in the early late 50s and early 60s. Readers are drawn down into the history and culture of the setting through an introduction that delves into the gritty pasts of their families and then lifted back up again by the luminous and gently humorous story of the young couple's romance. Several elements conspire to keep you hanging on every word. The two kids have much to lose by being together, and their assignations are fraught with danger and desperation. The hopelessness and impossibility of their relationship echoes the climate in which they are living and ultimately allows the author to turn the story into a sort of allegory about war. But don't read it for the message, read it just to get to know and experience the greatly flawed but entirely lovable protagonist, Clem Ackroyd, who tells the story as an adult remembering his past."
Heather (5 out of 5 stars)