I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sparks by S. J. Adams

Since sixth grade, Debbie Woodlawn has kept a secret from her best friend, Lisa Ashby: That she is gay and that she is in love with her.  Debbie has shaped her life around Lisa's in order to be with her. This includes watching Full House reruns on Friday nights and going to ACTs (Active Christion Teen) meetings.  Now her best friend is dating a total loser named Norman who is into FCA and wearing a tie to school. One day during lunch period when Debbie has just had it with Norman and Lisa and goes to the bathroom to cry after realizing that the two of them were considering having sex according to Lisa, a friend, Angela puts two and two together and realizes why she is upset.  Neither one of them like Norman or ACT much.  Angela suggests that Debbie gives Emma, a girl at their school, and her weird ideas a chance.  

Emma had approached her earlier about The Church of Blue and later when she and her chief disciple, Tim, approaches her again explaining that the purpose of the Church is to go on Holy quests and that they could help her, she agrees to hear them out.  As Emma explains it "We think that something like magic is real, and anyone who doesn't believe it can just go listen to side two of the Beatles' Abbey Road record.  Humans can't create something that perfect without some sort of divine assistance. Some people call it 'magic'. Some people call it 'God'. We call it 'Blue.'"   They believe everyone has a Spark of Blue inside of them and when two or more people who compliment each other get together with their Sparks real magic happens.  For instance, the Beatles did all right in their solo careers, but they really soared when they played together.  The sum is worth more than the individual parts separate.

There are ten commandments of the Holy Church of Blue: 1. Matters of the Heart come first. Especially Someone else's heart. 2. Be thou not an asshole. 3. Goest thou on holy quests. 4. Taketh thou any detours or side trips or odd suggestions that come up, for they will lead thee to knowledge, and to adventure, and bring thee closer to Blue. 5. Never put thy words in the mouth of Blue. 6. Floss thy fucking teeth. 7. Wearth thou no garment that costeth thou more than a tank of gas. 8. Thou shalt not maketh thy home in Nebraska (Nebraska is Bluish hell).  Yeah, they're still trying to come up with the last two. But if you ever want to say hell, you just say Nebraska instead.  They also have a list of holy quest goals and they are only missing three from completing this list, See a naked person of each gender in the same place at the same time, break something expensive, and witness a girl-on-girl kiss in which at least one participant has never kissed a girl before.  They agree to help Debbie with her holy quest of getting to Lisa before she has sex with Norman and telling her that she likes, not just girls, but Lisa.  The secondary goal ends up being to track down Debbie's backpack, which has a note in it which says that she likes girls before it falls into the wrong hands.

But that's not the only holy quest for the night. Debbie has a secret quest of her own.  She intends on trying to get Emma and Tim together before the night is over, all while they avoid Heather Quinn who keeps trying to chase them down because she has been the butt of a great number of holy quests (pranks) by Emma and Tim.  There's a giant storm brewing in Iowa that will break at any moment.  The night will take them to some odd places where they will run into an array of people, some helpful and some not, all the while listening to the soundtrack music of Blueism on Emma's car stereo.  I really do love the music this book is set to, which is an odd thing to say about a book, yet this is a quirky and odd book that is a joy to read. I want to join the Church of Blue myself.  It sounds like a great deal of fun and enlightenment.

My dad’s a regular guy, and my mom’s a total kook, so I guess I had a fifty percent chance of coming out normal. Leave it to me to screw it up.
-S.J. Adams (Sparks p. 1)
The goth kids always looked about as depressed as I felt, so that was a possibility, but I didn’t think they’d let me hang out with them. It’s hard to get in with the goth crowd if you weren’t, like, born a goth.  If I tried to hang out with them after years of being The Girl Who Hangs Out with Lisa Ashby, they’d probably call me a poseur or something.  The cheerleaders on the other side of the hall probably wouldn’t let me near them, either. One thing I’ve got to give them credit for is that at least they have a formalized processed for joining their group—they have try-outs. The only other groups I could think of that have a process like that are the theater kids, who have auditions, and gangsters, who I always heard make you kill someone for their shoes or something.
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p. 15-16)
I sniffed, trying to get some snot back into my nose. Some of it had already gotten onto my white shirt. Broken hearts are fucking gross.
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p 38)
I’d driven all the way through Nebraska with Lisa once on the way to an ACTs Jamboree in Denver. Once you got past Omaha, driving through Nebraska is probably the single most mind-numbingly boring thing a person can possibly do. Other than hanging out with Norman Hastings. God, making that drive with him would probably create, like, a black hole on the interstate.
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p 66)
“So, none of the guys who play role-playing games would sleep with a cheerleader if the chance came up?” “I wouldn’t say that,” said Tim. “Some of them could probably be talked into sleeping with one, but not all of them. And they wouldn’t want to stick around to cuddle after. They wouldn’t have anything to talk about. That’s why geeks think places like Dragoncon are good places to get laid.  It’s not that the girls there are sluts, it’s just that those cons are full of people they want to sleep with.”
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p 162)
I hear the netherworld is nothing but a tourist trap nowadays.
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p 212)
I was kicking ass and taking names and sending them in with two proofs of purchase and $2.95 for shipping and handling.
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p 221)
It was weird to think there were even people like me in Des Moines. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like everyone in the world was a total weirdo. No one was normal, really. Maybe not even my dad.
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p. 223)
“I didn’t know the Beach Boys did songs like this,” I said. “I thought it was all songs about surfing and cars and like, sandcastles and stuff.” “Yeah,” said Tim, “they were kind of secretly awesome. The guy who arranged their songs said they were teenage symphonies to God. And some guy once said the strings on this song [“God Only Knows”] are proof of divinity.” “It was the guy from U2,” said Emma. “Either that or Elvis Costello. But if I see one more hipster on the Internet saying that their Pet Sounds is better than Abbey Road, I’ll pound them into sand and make a castle of my own.”
-S. J. Adams (Sparks p. 227)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Sparks-S-J-Adams/dp/0738726761/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475065759&sr=1-1&keywords=sparks+by+s.j.+adams



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