Age Group: Young Adult
Book #: one
Synopsis: Like her parents, 16-year-old Vassar is a Planner with a capital P! She leaves nothing to chance (guess where she plans to go to college?). Never, that is, until the doorbell rings one night, and before you can say unexpected, Vassar finds herself backpacking through the jungles of Southeast Asia with Gertrude, her madcap artist grandmother. How could her parents have permitted this? Well, it has something to do with what Vassar thinks of as The Big Secret. Will she solve the mystery before she's completely undone by fallout from Grandma's relentless acts of spontaneity?
Overall, I loved Carpe Diem. Cornwell's plot was so unique and creative, it couldn't compare to many other teen books. Vassar was funny and different and Cornwell's perception of the teenage girl was great. The side characters weren't dwelt upon, but they were there, adding twists to the book. The mystery of the Big Secret was shocking, and it left me laughing in a strange sort of way. Although the mystery is there, Cornwell writes so much happening around it that that's not the central part of the book. Amazing. Marvelous. Hilarious!
The Cover: I think this depicts the book well. I thought that it doesn't really speak Vassar until the end of the book, when she really learns to LIM. I love the neutral colors and how they represent Vassar's time in southern Asia. I also think the natury feel of the cover fits the mood perfectly.