Noggin, by John Corey Whaley

NogginTravis was one sick teenager. At the age of sixteen, he and his doctors agreed that he was losing his battle with cancer, and it was time to say goodbye. At the last moment, though, a doctor from the Saranson Center for Life Preservation stopped by their house to pitch the brand-new option of having Travis’ head cryogenically stored, waiting for the day that science was able to reattach it to a healthy body or a robot body. His parents were repulsed, but Travis decided to go for it, and at the beginning of this novel, he has just reopened his eyes. To Travis, it seems that he just closed his eyes five minutes ago, but for the rest of the world, five years have gone by.

Science has moved along more quickly than expected, and rather than having a Rip Van Winkle story, Travis is struggling to deal with the same people that he knew before, only they have changed, while he is just a healthy version of his former self. His best friend is in college, his girlfriend is engaged, and Travis has to repeat tenth grade. His parents stripped every single item out of his bedroom, so Travis is living in a sterile IKEA space, although he does find an urn with his ashes—his ashes—in the back of a closet.

As Travis gets used to traveling in the body of Jeremy Pratt, who died of a brain tumor, his main objective is to make the world go back to the way it used to be. His most urgent goal is to get Cate, his old girlfriend, to see that she still loves him and needs to leave her fiancé and return to him. His repeated attempts are variously sweet, pathetic, annoying, and frustrating. The reader hopes that Travis will come to see all of the loving people he is blessed to have in his life, and that he will eventually reorient himself and move forward.

Printz-winning author Whaley uses an outrageous concept to highlight universal struggles. Noggin was a National Book Award finalist. Recommended for teens and adults.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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