Review by Edan
Title: Carpe Diem
Author: Autumn Cornwell
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
16 year old Vassar's whole life has been planned out, from her PhD to attending Vassar College. Her family never goes without a plan and Vassar believes her whole life will be like this. But it all changes one night in May when her grandmother (an avid artist and traveler in Southeast Asia) blackmails her parents and pulls Vassar out her perfect life and into a wild adventure. Vassar must learn to adapt, to LIM as her Grandma Gerd says (Live in the Moment). And throughout the whole adventure, she is also looking to discover the Big Secret Grandma Gerd blackmailed her parents with. Finally, with no plans in mind, Vassar, Grandma Gerd and the Malaysian cowboy Hanks travel through Malaysia to Cambodia and even the little jungles of Laos. Vassar must learn to LIM and in the end she does, even when the Big Secret turns her whole life upside down.
I really enjoyed this book. I picked it off a shelf at the library one day and really liked the idea of the book. I started reading and got so annoyed at Vassar, with her overachiever ways, preppy friends and overly planned life. I also didn't really like Hanks in the beginning either. He just seemed like a kind of weird and loud guy, but in the end I was quite fond of him. Grandma Gerd is also interesting. In the beginning, she seemed like a crazy grandmother with no thoughts or feelings other than traveling and collecting materials for her piece of art, but you later see how hard her life is and how much she cares for Vassar. I love the ways the characters were built. It's like how you would normally get to know someone, making assumptions in the beginning, but really getting to know them later.
Once I got into the story, I absolutely loved it. The combination of humor, adventure and love was perfect. The was Vassar progresses in the story also made me like it more. Once she starts to just LIM and look at her present situation at all angles, she enhances the story. The Big Secret isn't quite that important to the story, but makes sense and adds another angle to it. Its a fast pace and entertaining book that I would highly recommend.