Monday, 21 March 2011

Just In Case

We've had this book at home for years, but I had never read it, for no particular reason. Also, it's my first Meg Rosoff book, even though we have 'How I Live Now' somewhere in this house. I digress... On to the review.

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff
First published by Penguin Books in 2006 (this edition by Penguin in 2007)

Description: (from Goodreads)
After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life and senses impending doom. Without looking back, he changes his name to Justin and assumes a new identity, new clothing and new friends, and dares to fall in love with the seductive Agnes Bee. With his imaginary dog Boy in tow, Justin struggles to fit into his new role and above all, to survive in a world where tragedy is around every corner. He's got to be prepared, just in case.

I actually found this book rather weird. David (or Justin) Case is a teenager who suddenly realises that life is not what it seems. After saving his brother from toppling out of the window in his bedroom, his whole life changes, as he realises that he has to outwit fate, some way or another. So, he decides to change his name to Justin and to completely alter the way he looks, in the hope of having fate pass him by - not notice him.

During the course of the book, many things happen to Justin - he meets an older girl, Agnes, and makes friends with a boy from school, Peter. He runs away from home and lives in different places, and while away, he experiences some disastrous events, which lead to him contemplating his life even more.

Just In Case was a very good read. It captures the coming-of-age of a teenager who is troubled by guilt (at least, that's how I saw it) and who tries to invent ways to counter-attack the notion of the futility of life. I didn't like Agnes' character very much, but I did like Peter and his sisters, who really and truly supported David (Justin) during his whole Justin phase.

I particularly liked the twist that came in the last few chapters of the book. It wasn't a happy twist, but it did sort-of explain why certain things happened... To me, at least. It's not a happy twist, I warn you. But it was completely unexpected. I would have never though that something like that would happen.

But I do have an important objection about this book. David (Justin) Case was supposed to be 15 years old, and his parents just let him leave home and go and live elsewhere, without showing any objection whatsoever. I thought that was very weird. Which parent would let their 15-year-old child leave home, without knowing exactly where they are supposed to be (or at least wanting to know)?? I found that part of the story to be a little off-putting, as if his parents didn't really care about him that much. I might not bother (have bothered) you, but I did not like it.

Rating: 7/10

Meg Rosoff is an American author, who has been living in London since 1989. She used to work in advertising, but she began to write novels after her younger sister died of breast cancer. She has written four books for young adults, as well as three short-story children's books (she collaborated with Sophie Blackall, who illustrated them). Her first book, ''How I Live Now'' has received 3 notable awards, and ''Just In Case'' was the recipient of the prestigious Carnegie Medal for 2007. She has also written ''What I Was'', with her latest novel being ''The Bride's Farewell''.
Here are the covers:
How I Live Now ( | Goodreads)

What I Was ( | Goodreads)

The Bride's Farewell ( | Goodreads)
You can find out more about Meg Rosoff and her books here:

Counts as Book #19 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge and as Book #8 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

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