The House of Tomorrow

Image of The House of Tomorrow
Release Date: 
March 3, 2010
Penguin Press
Reviewed by: 

 The Sex Pistols are screaming in the ears of this reviewer’s headset (with the volume on full blast) as he sits in a geodesic dome made by Buckminster Fuller. Neither is true, but it is the seemingly contrasting blend of these two worlds which entices, intrigues, and catapults the reader back to the teen years—if you are not presently enjoying (or surviving) that beguiling, frustrating, and fearless point in life. Teenage (and at times adult) angst, naivete, loneliness, and believing your way is the only way—are all thrown into the reader’s path with such verve and clarity that you hear yourself laughing, snickering, and identifying with the characters page after page. Sebastian lives with his grandmother, Nana, in the only Geodesic Dome in Iowa. He is raised, almost cloistered like a nun, with home schooling and the philosophy of Buckminster Fuller (who called the Geodesic Dome the “House of Tomorrow”). Jared lives with his mother Janice and sister Meredith in a suburban home a few miles away. Jared is practically a shut-in, due to his heart transplant and his mother’s fear. They are both 16 years of age. Neither Sebastian nor Jared has any friends until an unexpected event brings them together. As the story progresses from Sebastian’s point of view, Nana’s interpretation of Bucky’s (her endearing term for Mr. Buckminster Fuller) views on the power of thought take a prominent role. She says, “Each negative thought was like a hemorrhoid, controlling forces of the universe.” Sebastian is wrapped up in positive and creative possibility, while Jared has made a cocoon out of negativity and pessimism. When they first meet, it is akin to two giant meteors colliding in space. Jared smokes, swears, hates, and hibernates, listening to punk music that confirms his existence and his sense that nothing matters. Sebastian is as nerdy as they come, without any idea of what is cool, hip, or socially expected. In spite of his social ineptness, he recognizes the good in people and makes the best of it. In reference to Jared, he thinks, “When he was at his most overbearing, he seemed like the ruler of his own small country. The reality was that he was scared sometimes. And he still needed his mother.” His observation about TV (which he had not seen before) is exquisite. “The people in the programs just endlessly wanted.” For seemingly unapparent, yet in some ways obvious reasons, the boys begin to accept one another and start their own band. The scenes of them coming up with the group’s name and writing their first songs are priceless and as real as the eyes with which you are reading this review. Add Sebastian’s attractions to, and understanding of, Jared’s sister, Meredith, and his increasing insight into the adults (Nana and Janice) and you have an author’s first novel that you can take to the bank or more likely, to a variety of literary awards, accolades, and the lists of best sellers. Gabriel Constans’ latest novel is Buddha's Wife. He doesn't remember the name of “the rock group” in which he banged on a guitar at age 15, but does recall that none of them knew how to play or sing. The coolest part was telling people he was “in a band.”