I've just read Cecil Castellucci's 2005 debut novel Boy Proof
and it's delightful to discover that she's every bit as talented a novelist as she is a graphic novel writer (The Plain Janes
, the first volume in the outstanding Minx graphic novel series) and a rock musician (Nerdy Girl/Bite).
Boy Proof is the story of "Egg" (AKA Victoria), a self-made outcast in Melrose Prep, who is smart as anything about everything, except herself. She's an overachieving loner, a weirdo, and a science fiction geek, and she's alienated from both of her driven, entertainment-industry parents. She is a perpetual half-rage, but never really sure why, and she can't help but see the world as a hostile and foul place.
As the novel unfolds (and we get a tour of Egg's many deep fascinations and the people in her life who like her no matter what) she learns, by inches, to let go of some of the anger and figure out how to be happy as well as smart and driven.
Smart and miserable seem to go together so often, especially for kids, and Castellucci's clearly been there. The book brims with affection for Egg and her crummy attitude, and it's easy to empathize with her even as you hope for her to find a way free. This is the perfect hopeful and compassionate book for the sharp weirdo in your life.
Alan Turing and the codebreakers of Bletchley Park invented modern crypto and computers in the course of breaking Enigma ciphers, the codes that Axis powers created with repurposed Enigma Machines — sophisticated (for the day) encryption tools invented for the banking industry — to keep the Allies from listening in on their communications.
In 1948, the Institute of Applied Science commissioned an unknown illustrator to depict a fistful of squirming, terrified criminals caught in an authoritative fist, under the headline “CAUGHT BY THEIR FINGERTIPS” — they were advertising a home Criminal Investigation and Identification course.
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