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Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
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Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

4.5 331
by Wendy Mass

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In one month Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen. But does he have what it takes to be a teenager? He collects mutant candy, he won't venture more than four blocks from his apartment if he can help it, and he definitely doesn't like surprises. On the other hand, his best friend, Lizzy, isn't afraid of anything, even if that might get her into trouble now and then


In one month Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen. But does he have what it takes to be a teenager? He collects mutant candy, he won't venture more than four blocks from his apartment if he can help it, and he definitely doesn't like surprises. On the other hand, his best friend, Lizzy, isn't afraid of anything, even if that might get her into trouble now and then.

Jeremy's summer takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious wooden box arrives in the mail. According to the writing on the box, it holds the meaning of life! Jeremy is supposed to open it on his thirteenth birthday. The problem is, the keys are missing, and the box is made so that only the keys will open it without destroying what's inside. Jeremy and Lizzy set off to find the keys, but when one of their efforts goes very wrong, Jeremy starts to lose hope that he'll ever be able to open the box. But he soon discovers that when you're meeting people named Oswald Oswald and using a private limo to deliver unusual objects to strangers all over the city, there might be other ways of finding out the meaning of life.

Lively characters, surprising twists, and thought-provoking ideas make Wendy Mass's latest novel an unforgettable read.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
What is the meaning of life? Mass (A Mango-Shaped Space) introduces a winning narrator who attempts to answer this question and ends up accomplishing much more. Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzy, are on a quest to discover Jeremy's purpose on earth before his 13th birthday. Set in New York City, the adventure begins when a mysterious box arrives. The package, assembled by his father before he died in a car accident five years prior (the man had a premonition of his early death), contains a sealed antique box inscribed with the message, "The Meaning of Life: For Jeremy Fink to Open on His 13th Birthday." The box can only be opened with a set of four keys, which have gone missing. Much of the novel's charm derives from Jeremy and Lizzy's unique friendship. Their personalities balance each other brilliantly-Lizzy the risktaker challenges Jeremy, who resists change. With less than a month to find the keys, the two meet a number of larger-than-life characters with their own life-lesson nuggets to bestow-most memorable among them the venerable pawnbroker, Mr. Oswald, for whom they make some surprising deliveries ("The harder something is to acquire, the more satisfying it is when you finally find it," says he). Jeremy and Lizzy find what they are looking for and more, but not where or in the way they expected. This exquisitely executed plot twist, combined with an ending that requires a few tissues, makes this soulful novel one not to miss. Ages 9-12. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Augusta Scattergood
Jeremy Fink's father died a few years before the boy's thirteenth birthday and left a mysterious box for Jeremy to open on that significant date. When it arrives in the mail, Jeremy discovers that it contains no less than the meaning of life, and he is determined to find the four keys to open the amazing box. Both Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy are the kind of kids you would love to know, with all their endearing quirks—Jeremy collects misshapen candies and Lizzy collects lost playing cards. They pass notes between their apartments via a hole in the wall. Both live with single parents who love them. In fact, you would have to search a long time for two more appealing, contemporary characters than these. As they search for the four keys, they visit flea markets, break into an abandoned office of a lawyer, and master the New York subway system. Adding an element of fantasy to the story, a mysterious man and his chauffeur send them on an adventure which opens Jeremy's eyes to the real meaning of life. The surprising plot twists make this story one kids will want to read more than once. In the end, Jeremy learns that his quest requires more than keys and a box. And that life is a lot more complicated and maybe even more exciting than he ever imagined.
Quirky and endearing, Jeremy Fink is about to turn 13 and has just been presented with the opportunity for a wonderful adventure. His deceased father left behind a mysterious box engraved "The Meaning of Life," but it requires four different keys that have been lost. Mass chronicles the quest for the four keys conducted by Jeremy and his best friend and neighbor, Lizzy. The two main characters are charming and quite funny together, balancing each other out. Lizzy is loud, fiery, and spontaneous, while Jeremy is much less adventurous and prefers science books and learning trivia. The two bounce around New York City, getting into a bit of fun trouble that leads them to meet an intriguing cast of characters. The book is fairly mature, dealing with a true quest for the meaning of life. Along the way, Jeremy copes with a brief existential crisis, making him sound much older than 12. He is a loveable character, quite bright for his age and always rational. Well-written and captivating; the reader gets a chance to discover the meaning of life as well and will not be disappointed. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2006, Little, Brown, 290p., $15.99.. Ages 12 to 15.
—Joanna Solomon
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-An elaborately locked wooden box requiring four separate but missing keys holds the treasure in this modern-day quest. Jeremy's father lived his life preparing for an early death, as foretold by a fortune-teller. He did, in fact, die when Jeremy was eight, but a package from him containing the locked box arrives one month before Jeremy's 13th birthday, the day on which the box is to be opened. With his friend Lizzy, Jeremy searches for the keys while contemplating the words engraved on the box, "The Meaning of Life: For Jeremy Fink. 13th Birthday." The search for the keys takes the friends around and about New York City, where they meet a large and increasingly convenient range of supporting characters, from members of a spiritualist congregation to a prominent astronomer, all of whom point them toward their own takes on the meaning of life. Mystery and adventure fans will be pulled in by the locked box, and, as a bonus, will get to know quirky, scientific Jeremy and impulsive Lizzy. Some readers might become impatient as the metaphysical quest lengthens, but those who stick with the story will find a warm picture of parental love and wisdom and of a boy growing into his own understanding and acceptance of life.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Years before he died, Jeremy Fink's father prepared a box containing "the meaning of life" for his son to open on his 13th birthday. When Jeremy receives the box a few months before that momentous day, the keys are missing, and it's up to him and his best friend Lizzy to find a way into the box. The search for the keys-or, failing the keys, the meaning of life itself-takes the two throughout New York City and into a spot of trouble, which lands them a very unusual community-service sentence: They must return treasures to the children, now grown, who pawned them long ago. This device brings Jeremy and Lizzy-both originals to the core-into contact with a calculated variety of characters, all of whom have their own unique angles on the meaning of life. Mass spins a leisurely tale that's occasionally Konigsburg-esque, carefully constructed to give narrator Jeremy ample time to reflect on his encounters. It may be a subplot or two in need of a trim, and the resolution will surprise nobody but Jeremy, but agreeable on the whole. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.87(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Wendy Mass is the New York Times bestselling author of The Candymakers, the ALA Schneider Family Award winner A Mango-Shaped Space, Leap Day, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall, and Every Soul a Star. Wendy lives in New Jersey with her husband and their twins. Her website is www.wendymass.com.

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Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 331 reviews.
margopolo12 More than 1 year ago
I recommend the book Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass .I recently finished reading it.its about a boy who has received a box from his deseced father for him to open on his 13th b-day,in the book the boy and his friend Lizzie spend there summer looking for the 4 keys he needs to open the box.Great for anyone who loves to read realistic fiction.
maddchilkid51 More than 1 year ago
Jeremy Fink and the meaning of life by Wendy Mass is an amazing fictional novel. Jeremy is a 12 year old kid that's dad has died when he was a little boy. 1week before Jeremy's 13th birthday he has received a box and he read the letter and it said it was from his father. He realized that it took 5 keys and didn't no where they were and his mother has not seen them sense his father has died. Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy go around town where Jeremy's dad used to work and where he made the box. When Jeremy got home later that day him and lizzy has passed notes though a whole in the apartment wall about the next day. Jeremy loves to eat peanut butter sandwiches so much that his sweat smelled like peanut butter. Jeremy and Lizzy struggle to find the keys. I would recommend this book for anyone who likes funny, fictional novels.
IDreamBrian More than 1 year ago
My reading of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life was made by an accident.I grabbed the book because I couldn't get any other.At first,I thought the book would just be another kid finding out nothing but pure science.But once I really got into reading the book I practically couldn't put it down.Jeremy and his best friend ,Lizzy are both captivating characters (though I relate to both of them).I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a true work of art that gives hope for the better and the start of a new idea and a way finding and discovering things.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first actual chapter book i read and i loved it and i still do. It is very different and unique. The characters are well developed and the plot is very strong. I suggest it to everyone who loves to read. Thoughout the book i was litterally laughing. A very good book. If i could give it more stars i would
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recomend this book to everyone who loves wendy mass. She is an incredible writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life is a great book written by Wendy Mass. This fictional book will have your eyes glued to it! If you want adventure then pick this up. It¿s not only adventurous but funny, sand, and it leaves you wanting more. Most kids would like this because it features to young kids who like to have fun but can tend to get into trouble. Jeremy isn¿t an explorer and he doesn¿t like to travel far from his apartment. He doesn¿t like the big city. Lizzy his best friend, is audacious. She likes to find out things and explore. She sneaks into places where normally you wouldn¿t be allowed to go. Places where you would get in trouble for. In New York you tend to get jostled. Jeremy is not the type to argue though. Jeremy had two parents, but his dad has died. Jeremy¿s dad goes to a fortune teller and is told that he will die at 40. This is not true because he dies at 39. Before he died he came upon a man with a fancy box. He chooses this as the box for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday. There¿s a problem though. This isn¿t you ordinary box. It is triple sealed. The keys are lost and there is no way to recreate the keys. Jeremy Fink and his friend have to find the keys in all of New York City. So Jeremy Fink is stuck with a box with no keys. His best friend Lizzy has a plan. Go to the man¿s office in the letter who claims he lost the keys, tear it up to find the keys, and search till you can find something. By the way try to sneak past a body guard, who can watch you¿re every move. If you get caught then you¿ll have to do a summer job or clean up the city. Well that¿s what happens. They pick to work a summer job. Another problem is on the way though. This time it¿s Lizzy¿s problem. Lizzy is getting a period. She yells at Jeremy and wants to be alone. Jeremy¿s mom helps her and she gets over it. The time has come and Lizzy and Jeremy are one step away from the box¿s keys. The man they work for is leaving. He will let them get a present before he leaves to Florida. Lizzy chooses a doll and Jeremy a suitcase¿ with keys in it. Are four specific keys to Jeremy¿s box in there? If you like books with adventure and fun this is for you. It¿s straight to the point. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading. You will see many different sides to this story like sadness, funny, adventurous, and serious. You will not put this book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first thought was, who puts a bunch of keys on their book? But once you read it,it's a touching story. Jeremy Fink's dad is dead, but he left the meaning of life behind in a box. When Jeremy receives the box, without the keys, in the mail, he is forced on a quest to discover the meaning of life. Every time I read this book I like it even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass is one of the best fiction novels. The story kept me reading to find out what will happen next and the meaning of life. Added to the story Wendy mass added many realistic conflicts. The book takes place in New York City. With Jeremy¿s 13th Birthday coming soon he gets a box from his dad who is dead. The instructions are to open the box on his 13th birthday, but there are 4 keys missing throughout New York City. Will Jeremy find them on time?.
Because of Lizzy¿s audacious nature she decides to go to the building to find the keys, but they get caught. The two friends get to choose between garbage picking or volunteer work for a old man. Jeremy also overcomes his fear of leaving the house and goes to find his keys. At the same time Jeremy has new neighbors and is jealous that his best friend is talking to them. They go to a talent show to try to win the grand prize. Lizzy starts getting cramps and Jeremy goes on a show of his life.
Wendy mass puts friendship as one of the main themes of the story epically how a boy and a girl can be best friends. The story does not have complicated language and is a decent length. They author even adds in trivia facts that is included during Jeremy¿s time. I recommend this story to anyone who likes realistic fiction and likes surprise endings. You might even learn a thing or two about the meaning of life. The ending makes you think and even go back into the book and see if the events truly happened. This story is a must-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like this book but the movie is much easier to understand still awesome book wendy mass rocks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book i had to read for school
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wendy mass has done it again! I totally reccomend this book to everyone. Also you should read the book the candymakers also by wendy mass this book is awsome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever it is my ulimate favorite book!!!!! Loved it!
sidders98 More than 1 year ago
an incredible book! i learned a lot from this book and not just about the meaning of life. about the atmossphere ect. this is a great book for kids as young as 9 depending on how mature and old they act.this is a book that you can never get tired of. everytime i read this i learn something new. this might be because i am older everytime i read this and understand everything more, but maybe because everytime i pay more attention to the words and the incredible words used. it gives everyone agood time with the exiting moments and the sad or over welming points in the book. i hope you enjoy this book when you read it. im sure you will! take time to read the sentances and try to become jeremy. look at the plot in as many different ways you can! enjoy every word of it for wendy mass! her writing is incredible and i am sure you will get hooked!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot explain this book it was by far the number one Wendy Mass book. It was so detailed and interesting...I couldnt put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read this one by Mass!!!!! Also, read the Candymakers by Mass, it rocks too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought this for 10 yr old daughter and she loved it and highly recommends it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my book club and it was great!!! You should totally read it! There is also a movie about it! I <3 Wendy Mass!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is my favorite book because its adventureous, entertaining and emotional, i love thisbook!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sorta catches your eye right from the begginning. I couldnt put the ebook down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great hook and keep's you wanting to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the frist few chapters and I am intriged.
Teresa Harris More than 1 year ago
So far this book is AWESOME! anybody can read it .. it is wounder ful and great
tyerlikestoread More than 1 year ago
ThIs book is AMAZING!!!!!! It's keep's you entertained through the whole book@!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it was pretty good but very not relistic.