This best-selling book is now available in paperback.
It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a fifteen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, Dallas, escape the treatment, but must pretend to be "zombies" while they watch their freedoms and hopes decay. When Max's family decides to take Dallas with them into the unknown world beyond New Middletown's borders, Max's creativity becomes an unexpected bonus rather than a liability.
When Josh's mother dies in a phobia-induced car crash, she leaves two questions for her grieving family: how did a snake get into her car and how do you mourn with no faith to guide you?
Twelve-year-old Josh is left alone to find the answers. His father is building a time machine. His four-year-old brother's closest friend is a plastic Power Ranger. His psychiatrist offers nothing more than a blank journal and platitudes.
Isolated by grief in a home where every day is pajama day, Josh makes death his research project. He tests the mourning practices of religions he doesn't believe in. He tries to mend his little brother's shattered heart. He observes, records and waits-for his life to feel normal, for his mother's death to make sense, for his father to come out of the basement.
His observations, recorded in a series of journal entries, are funny, smart, insightful-and heartbreaking. His conclusions about the nature of love, loss, grief and the space-time continuum are nothing less than life-changing.