When Travis comes back to high school after a five-year absence, one of his classmates calls out “Noggin!” And the principal frowns and the geometry teacher makes the boy apologize. Because it’s rude to say such a thing to the boy whose head had been cryogenically frozen five years before when he was dying of cancer.
Yes, science has moved ahead, and Travis is back in his high school world, and still eating at the kids’ table at big family gatherings while his once younger cousins sit with the adults. He really didn’t think the freezing his head would work—that it could be transplanted to a new body. And if it ever did, he thought he would exist sometime in the far future where he’d have a starship. But what has happened is even weirder for him because he’s still sixteen, but all of his friends are now twenty-one. They grieved over his death and now they’ve moved on.
Travis’s new body is an improvement. It’s taller and better built than his old one—and it’s not sick. He had been so ill with cancer that he says now, “You know things are weird when you start appreciating your farts,” because every little thing his body did in the late stages of cancer had been painful.
Accepting how his old friends have moved on is tough for Travis. His best friend, Kyle, had come out to Travis just before Travis ‘died.’ But when Travis returns to life, Kyle is back in the closet. Travis confronts him about it, and they argue. Travis starts to realize that they are both living lives that they didn’t chose to live.
Worse than the trouble with Kyle is Travis’s longing for Cate. She had been his girlfriend. They had been in love. And now she is engaged to a guy who’s twenty-five. Travis can’t accept this—he and Cate had truly been in love. He feels that they can reignite their passion. That you, reader, see his delusion, that many of his efforts are hilarious, make all his struggles more poignant.
Luckily, Travis has one new friend, who may help him get through this.
High school housekeeping: This is another one that I recommend to all—it has both guy and girl appeal, the writing is fluid and the story compelling. Even moving from chapter to chapter is fun. The last words of one chapter become the next chapter heading. “No doubt in my mind” becomes the chapter “Doubt in My Mind.”
The author of Noggin, John Corey Whaley, will be at the Ontario City Library’s Teen Book Fest at Colony High on May 17. He’s also the author of Where Things Come Back. Come out and see him. For more info, call 909-395-2225.