Life: An Exploded Diagram
By Mal Peet
Mal Peet has been an author on my radar for a long time, but this is the first book I’ve read by him. He is a British author who has received awards for previous works including Tamar and Exposure. Life is an historical fiction that cleverly surges through multiple generations within a family spanning from early WWI England through Sept 11, 2001 in New York City.
In the first generation, Win’s husband Percy dies in WWI. While Ruth’s husband George is fighting in WWII, a German fighter plane crashes just over their garden hitting the roof of the house as the war is ending and she gives birth to their son Clem. Clem grows up in England with the backdrop of the cold war in a growing and changing English landscape as he experiences the conflict of the Kennedy administration and the crisis in Cuba as portrayed through the media on a daily basis.
Mal Peet delivers a wonderful story filled with multi-generational interpretations of the changing times around them, progressive views of war and peace, and a wonderful coming of age story as Clem comes to learn who he is among a cast of friends, family and young love. It is a thought-provoking read that will leave you pondering long after you turn the last page -- a perfect book for discussion in book groups or clubs.