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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized0 Comments

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (website)
Publication Year: 2007
ISBN: 0312367929
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 368

Place(s) Traveled to: Washington, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell is the story of sixteen year old Vassar Spore. Vasser isn’t like your normal teenager though she is driven and has a ten year plan for her life that includes things like getting into Vassar College and obtaining her pH.D. before age 25. Her goals are often unrealistic and leave little time for her to enjoy life. Every moment is focused around school and how she can win Valedictorian before starting her illustirous college career. That is until a long distance phone call from her grandmother turns her world completely upside down. Before she knows it, Vassar is flying off to Malaysia to spend the summer helping her grandmother with an art project that she is working on, a project that will take them all over Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. Over the course of her summer, Vassar is to write a book that will count for school credit and help to keep her 10 year plan in action. The book is an only slightly fictionalized account of her actual adventures. Much like Carpe Diem is a fictionalized account of Cornwell’s own experiences during various trips to Southeast Asia.

I found the character of Vassar to be an uptight and unrealistic girl. Her journey to finding herself seems very contrived and happens in all too rapid a fashion. Vassar’s grandmother is also very artifical and I found it hard to grow attached to any of the characters. I remember have very increduous thoughts while reading this book. And yet there was something about it that kept me reading. For while I might not have liked the characters I did like how Cornwell wrote. She was very descriptive and I could almost see myself standing inside of Angor Wat, among other locals. Overall I didn’t hate this book but I’m not sure if its something that I’ll ever read again. Or one that I’ll recommend highly to friends. It wasn’t a bad read, just a bit to over the top for me at times. I will however probably read other books by Autumn Cornwell for as I’ve said I do like her style of writing. Carpe Diem is the debut novel by Cornwell so I am sure that her storytelling and characterizations will only improve over time.