Life After Genius

Life After Genius

by M. Ann Jacoby

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Overview

Theodore Mead Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age 12, he was in high school, and by 15 he was attending a top-ranking university. And now, at the tender age of 18, he's on the verge of proving the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has mystified academics for almost 150 years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly packs his bags and flees home to rural Illinois. What has caused him to flee remains a mystery to all but Mead and a classmate whose quest for success has turned into a dangerous obession.

At home, Mead finds little solace. His past ghosts haunt him; his parents don't understand the agony his genius has caused him, nor his desire to be a normal kid, and his dreams seem crushed forever. He embarks on a new life's journey -- learning the family business of selling furniture and embalming the dead--that disappoints and surprises all who knew him as "the young Fegley genius."

Equal parts academic thriller and poignant coming-of-age story, LIFE AFTER GENIUS follows the remarkable journey of a young man who must discover that the heart may know what the head hasn't yet learned.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446543033
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 10/29/2008
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 425 KB

About the Author

M. Ann Jacoby has been an art director at Penguin Group USA for the past 20 years. LIFE AFTER GENIUS is her first novel.

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Life after Genius 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Smilingsally More than 1 year ago
An eighteen-year-old genius leaves college eight days before graduating. Why, you ask? The answer is revealed bit by bit as the reader looks back through Mead's tortured childhood. His cold, distant mother loves Mead conditionally when he performs well scholastically. She nags and controls him. One way he rebuffs her is by thinking of her as "the six-legged creature." Mead's indifferent father, runs a furniture store/undertaking business and seems unaware of the existence of his son. The only people who are good to Mead are his Aunt Jewel and his cousin, Percy.

Mead reveals the pain of being an emotional and social misfit. Wishing he could be an "overlooked face in the crowd," he spends most of his life hiding--struggling to stay out of the paths of potential tormentors. His one love is that of learning, particularly in the field of mathematics. Mathematicians will enjoy this novel with the many references. Truthfully, I had to look up "Carl Fredrich Gauss,""Riemann zeta-hypothesis," "Prime Number Theorem," "Method of Least Squares," "Bell Labs," and "Cray X/MP" to confirm that these names and labels exist. They all do.

Chapters are not in chronological order; they are mixed up--much like Mead's life. The tale begins eight days before graduation and each chapter reveals one puzzle piece in Mead's life so that the reader can understand the puzzling question, "Why leave college eight days before graduating?" Unhappily, the ending did not tie up all loose ends.

Note: This novel contains profanity and adult themes.
Jennmarie68 More than 1 year ago
This was a weird one for me. I liked the story, even though it was a bit odd, but I didn't really connect with the main character. But the mystery of why Mead came home was pretty engaging. I just wanted to know why. The story jumps around through different times in Mead's life. It got to be a bit confusing at times, as Mead also seems to be having a bit of a nervous breakdown throughout the story. But the jumping around really adds to the mystery of what happened and if Mead really is starting to loose his mind. Mead appears to have had a rough social life growing up. Being so smart and so much younger than the kids he's in school with made him a bit of a target for bullies and such. So it's really no surprise that once Mead goes to college young he's still an outcast. Herman, Mead's best friend/mortal enemy tries to befriend Mead for a while and has to take a HUGE step to get Mead to really open up. But as the story progresses we learn that while Herman seems to have been born with the silver spoon his life wasn't really all that easy. Even though I didn't particularly care for either of the main characters there was something about this story that I couldn't walk away from. It was so out there at times and yet so "normal". It's so hard to describe. Even the ending was a bit odd, and it left more questions than it answered. But at the same time most of the really important stuff is cleared up before we get to the end. Like I said it's hard to describe...
Justjenniferreading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a weird one for me. I liked the story, even though it was a bit odd, but I didn't really connect with the main character. But the mystery of why Mead came home was pretty engaging. I just wanted to know why. The story jumps around through different times in Mead's life. It got to be a bit confusing at times, as Mead also seems to be having a bit of a nervous breakdown throughout the story. But the jumping around really adds to the mystery of what happened and if Mead really is starting to loose his mind.Mead appears to have had a rough social life growing up. Being so smart and so much younger than the kids he's in school with made him a bit of a target for bullies and such. So it's really no surprise that once Mead goes to college young he's still an outcast. Herman, Mead's best friend/mortal enemy tries to befriend Mead for a while and has to take a HUGE step to get Mead to really open up. But as the story progresses we learn that while Herman seems to have been born with the silver spoon his life wasn't really all that easy. Even though I didn't particularly care for either of the main characters there was something about this story that I couldn't walk away from. It was so out there at times and yet so "normal". It's so hard to describe. Even the ending was a bit odd, and it left more questions than it answered. But at the same time most of the really important stuff is cleared up before we get to the end. Like I said it's hard to describe...
NovelBookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finished Life After Genius this afternoon while waiting for the freshman football game to start. Thank goodness for mandatory time spent sitting in the car, it allows me reading time!!As I said during the blog tour for this novel, I think we've all known some people that are just a bit..well...different. In fact, I think that there is a little bit of Mead in all of us. We all feel like we're just a little peculiar sometimes. It's been very easy to empathize with Mead, and as the book drew to the conclusion, I found a deeper understanding of Mead's family as well. I'll admit to being a little confounded by the ending. It seemed almost abrupt, and as a rule, I don't like endings that are somewhat inconclusive. I guess could be considered a good type of ending, as the reader can draw their own conclusions and pretty much write the ending they'd prefer in their minds. However, I always feel a little bit let down by novels with endings like this one. Since I've been told I live in my own little happy world too often, I've decided to give the novel a "They all lived happily ever after" ending for my purposes. But I would have much rather the author had shared with us what her ending would have been for the characters. Life After Genius is a pretty good book nonetheless, and well worth your time to read.
cassiopia_cat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Received from Hachette Book Group to review for a blog tour. This book goes on sale today and it is well worth the buy. I found the book delightful with strong characters that move towards a meaningful climax and resolution. This book doesn't read like an author's debut...it's voice reads like a well crafted finale.Mead, as Teddy prefers to be called now, is the epitome of the underdog. He makes every mistake in the book...pun intended, but every experience is a learning curve and he handles bullying, intimidation, alienation from his family and academic dishonesty all with the same aplomb that he handles his genius. What wouldn't he give to have it all taken away-to not be different ever again?He tends to find out what the treasures of life are after he has lost his chance at them. Like the chance to really bond with his cousin who he never really trusted. He feels guilt about everything; he is letting his parents down...his mom wants him to conquer the world and his dad just wants him to find worthwhile work; his academic advisor and dean, they want him to publish an incredible finding to bring prestige to the college; his uncle and aunt who wish that he had been the one who died and he himself because he has never allowed himself to go after what he truly wants.Meeting many other characters along the way, who all have their own stories to tell and agendas, Mead stumbles through his life feeling apart from others until he is due to graduate from college and the world crumbles around him.Mead embodies a young man with visible vulnerabilities and hidden strengths but a huge resolve to find a place for himself in his own life.I give this a 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend this book to anyone looking for a satisfying read.
sagustocox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby is a book that examines one young genius' struggle to find himself and his place in his own family and society.Theodore Mead Fegley's father runs a furniture store and funeral home with his brother Martin, while his mother's main goal in life is to push her son to achieve as much as possible and not squander his intelligence. The pressure mounts for Mead as he speeds through his elementary and high school years, reaching the University of Chicago at age 15.The narrative easily shifts from the present to the past, and the chapter breaks make it easier to keep the timeline in perspective with details about what period in Mead's life is witnessed and what location he is in. Mead is a young teen thrust into academic life with peers who are much older and experienced. Mead's life takes a stark turn when he meets Herman Weinstein, a fellow mathematics student at the university. Mead's pushed aside as his faculty advisor chooses Weinstein over Mead after the professor is offered a department head position. Mead is angered by the turn of events, but only until he finds a new mentor, Dr. Alexander. Mead throws himself into the Riemann Hypothesis, and he hopes to either prove or disprove the hypothesis, which has been debated for more than 100 years.Jacoby easily weaves in events from Mead's past into his present and how those events shape Mead and his actions at the university. Herman insinuates himself into Mead's life, and tensions rise until Mead finds himself running home to rural Illinois before graduation, his major mathematical presentation, and his valedictorian speech.While math problems make me cringe, this story brought me back with the discussions of matrices--math I actually understood at one point--but Jacoby does a great job of including this information without burdening or boring the reader. As Mead's life unfolds and the mystery grows more intense, the pages flow quickly as the reader grows more anxious to find out why Mead left the university. This novel is dubbed as an academic thriller, but it is more like a coming of age story. Mead finds himself, what's important to him, and how to cope with his reality.
smilingsally on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An eighteen-year-old genius leaves college eight days before graduating. Why, you ask? The answer is revealed bit by bit as the reader looks back through Mead's tortured childhood. His cold, distant mother loves Mead conditionally when he performs well scholastically. She nags and controls him. One way he rebuffs her is by thinking of her as "the six-legged creature." Mead's indifferent father, runs a furniture store/undertaking business and seems unaware of the existence of his son. The only people who are good to Mead are his Aunt Jewel and his cousin, Percy.Mead reveals the pain of being an emotional and social misfit. Wishing he could be an "overlooked face in the crowd," he spends most of his life hiding--struggling to stay out of the paths of potential tormentors. His one love is that of learning, particularly in the field of mathematics. Mathematicians will enjoy this novel with the many references. Truthfully, I had to look up "Carl Fredrich Gauss,""Riemann zeta-hypothesis," "Prime Number Theorem," "Method of Least Squares," "Bell Labs," and "Cray X/MP" to confirm that these names and labels exist. They all do.Chapters are not in chronological order; they are mixed up--much like Mead's life. The tale begins eight days before graduation and each chapter reveals one puzzle piece in Mead's life so that the reader can understand the puzzling question, "Why leave college eight days before graduating?" Unhappily, the ending did not tie up all loose ends.Note: This novel contains profanity and adult themes.
miriamparker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Totally great, almost surreal story about a boy genius who loses it six days before he is supposed to graduate from college (at age 18). I'm totally fascinated by extraordinary minds and this book really captures the anguish that can go along with being just a little bit different.It's an adult book, but I think it would appeal to fans of YA as well.
stonelaura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It¿s not so easy being smart. At least when you¿re not so smart about some of the things most people take for granted, like making friends and deciding whom to trust. That lack of discriminational smarts is why Theodore ¿Mead¿ Fegley is back at the family business of funeral home/furniture store instead of delivering a groundbreaking presentation proving the veracity of the Riemann Hypothesis to an eager audience of renowned mathematicians.In her sweet, funny and satisfying debut novel Life After Genius, M. Ann Jacoby introduces us to the dysfunctional but intriguing Fegley family as they struggle to weather the ups and downs of a genius in their midst. It¿s not as if life were ever easy for Teddy. As expected he¿s teased and taunted by grade school classmates, held to almost impossible expectations by his hyper-demanding mother, and unfavorably compared to his sports enthusiast cousin. When Teddy, now requesting to be called Mead in an attempt to forge a new identity, enters college at sixteen he thinks he might have found his haven amid like-minded mathematics enthusiasts. But as various people want to bask in the glow of Mead¿s brightness he is shuffled through the system. His inability to discriminate between friendship and those who just want to leech off his genius, and his reluctance to recognize deceit bring him to the brink of ruin.Jacoby has created a whimsical family dynamic and has filled her book with quirky and entertaining situations. Her jumbled time-table keeps the reader intrigued as Mead uses his genius to solve the simple mysteries of real life.(Reminded me of Special Topics in Calamity Physics due to math theme and age of protagonist. Also slightly reminiscent of the Spellman family in terms of quirkiness.)
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I said in another review, I enjoy books about precocious kids. What's interesting here is that at18, Theodore (or Mead, as he prefers to be called) isn't really a kid anymore. He's transitioning from childhood to adulthood with some big issues to face.It took me a little while to get into Life After Genius. I found Mead hard to get to know, and for the first few chapters, the skipping around in time got in my way.About 1/3 of the way in, the book clicked for me, and I wanted to get to know Mead better, I wanted to understand what had happened and why. The skipping back and forth in time became an interesting way of doling out information, of setting up why I should care before being told about an event.I really liked the pull between Mead, the bright young man in control of his mathematical future, and Teddy, the boy who is younger than all of his peers, and doesn't have the social skills to cope with this-- even with those that are well meaning (which certainly isn't everyone). Both sides came into play with his reactions to events in the book.Mead's cousin Percy's story really touched me as it unfolded. This is another one of Mead's contrasts-- how he dealt with the cousin who was successful in so many ways that he wasn't. Percy's story plays out, and really affects Mead's world, and Mead has to come to terms with it.I did have to stop and decide what I thought about the "ghosts" in the book description. I wasn't sure I liked the idea of math/mental illness link, as we had to decide why things were happening the way they were for Mead. In the end, I was OK with it.
coolpinkone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't think that the front flap grabbed me and I still wasn't 'grabbed" in the very first few pages. I was not even sure what the description implied by an "academic thriller." I even thought the main character Theodore Mead Fegley was going to an annoying character that I couldn't grow to like. You know how sometimes you are just not in the mood for something. Well I am so glad that this Blog Tour served as motivation to read and finish the book!!!I loved it.I was very pleasantly surprised because book just got better and better for me. I liked the way the book goes from past to present creating suspense. The narrative voice that lent us insight intol Mead's thoughts and actions is key in this story and most excellently done. The story keeps unfolding and unfolding and really kept me entertained and drawn into the character Mead.Along the way Mead's parents, as well as, Uncle Martin, Aunt Jewel, Percy become that "small town simple family" with circumstances that I could relate to and with whom I could sympathize.Mead is a quirky guy. It is interesting and heartwarming to see him grow up and become more responsible for his actions and some of his own misinterpretations. It is very interesting and compelling to find out just what will Mead do next!The end was quite gripping and I was unable to put it down. For me the book has some characteristics of the HBO series Six Feet Under. As well as many other books or movies that I have read or encountered in other story lines that have the main character being bullied, mistreated and misunderstood. I was reminded of Dolores in Wally Lamb's, She's Come Undone and other coming of age characters all the way back to my childhood. Even in the Beverly Clearly books.For me the end was heartwarming, fair and VERY much a "can't put it down" story. I liked the unique quality of the plot and the easy reading that is sprinkled with humorous quirks of Mead. This book caught me on a light and easy mood making it the perfect book to read at this time.
thetometraveller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What could drive a brilliant young man to leave college eight days before graduation, without his degree, and return to his hometown to work in the family Mortuary business? Being a genius is a difficult thing. For Theodore Mead Fegley, it has brought him nothing but grief. He started high school at the age of twelve, finished in three years, and started college at the age of fifteen. He has always been younger and smaller than everyone else. And, of course, the victim of taunts, ridicule and pranks for his entire school career. He is thrilled to go to college, where he thinks he will be among equals, learned individuals who will value his intellect. Poor kid, how wrong he is.To facilitate the brand new start Theodore feels he is getting with college, he starts to go by his middle name, Mead. Unfortunately, the very first day he is reminded, yet again, that he is different from everyone else and does not fit in. Girls are too old for him, he is too young for drinking and partying, he has little in common with other young men on campus. His life is lonely and friendless. His only real friend, his cousin Percy, is off pursuing his dream of baseball glory. Percy sends a constant stream of postcards to Mead, letting him know what is going on in his life. But since Mead has no friends he doesn't really know how to BE one, so he never responds to Percy's postcards.Mead excels at mathematics and spends his college career working on solving the Riemann Hypothesis, a 150 year old mathematical theory. When Herman, a wealthy and attractive fellow math student, befriends Mead it seems a little strange to him that this guy would want to spend time with him. But Herman offers to help Mead on the Riemann Hypothesis so, against his better judgement, Mead allows himself to go along with Herman's schemes. The results will force Mead to change, come to some important realizations about life and to see his parents and family through new eyes.With Life After Genius, M. Ann Jacoby has written a wonderful story about the process of growing up. It is not enough to be smart, maturity lies in the ability to put aside your selfish concerns and do what is better for others, both people you love and people you may not like very much. She reminds us all about the discomforts of our school days when all we wanted was to be included, be liked, be part of the "in" crowd. You will fall in love with Mead Fegley, a sweet and awkward boy who learns the most important part of being a man.
Emily405920 More than 1 year ago
It was a little slow starting off, especially, as with any new book, you're deciding if you even want to read it. I urge you to push through. I read some of the reviews just now and some people said they couldn't identify with the main character Mead. I most definitely could. I think you really have to be a highly organized high performance nerd who knows about all the pressure that that entails to fully grasp the gravity of Mead's situation. Mead handles thing the way any genius would, because geniouses tend to be a little crazy and quirky and great, and yes sometimes they have mental breakdowns. I highly recommend this Novel. Please don't ignore this review, This is one of the best books I have ever read and I read at least ten novels a month.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gl More than 1 year ago
When we first meet Mead, he's just turned his back on college, fled, and returned to his hometown where he's regarded with as a genius and an oddball. His family is disappointed and puzzled at his reappearance. As Mead works at the family businesses, we slowly see the sacrifices that his family went through to help him succeed at University of Chicago as well as the adjustments and cost that Mead paid in his search to succeed and to stand out. Life After Genius is a fun and interesting read. At times sad and poignant, and at times witty and humorous. It's about the cost of personal success and about the strength of love and family. It's a story that will stay with you long after finished the book. Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 28, 2009), 400 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Slessman More than 1 year ago
LIFE AFTER GENIUS M. Ann Jacoby Grand Central Publishing ISBN: 978-0-446-1 - Paperback $13.99 400 pages Reviewer: Annie Slessman M. Ann Jacoby has written a debut novel that most authors strive to attain. LIFE AFTER GENIUS is the story of a young genius who struggles for normalcy in an abnormal world. Mead, the main character, noted mathematical genius now attending and soon to be graduate of a noted university, leaves his dorm room and heads for home days before his graduation. His parents struggle to understand why Mead would jeopardize the college degree he has worked so hard to attain. They inquire as to Mead's reasoning for his sudden appearance. Mead is unwilling to explain his actions because he is still struggling to understand them himself. The story takes in many personalities, the underlying reasons for their actions and Mead's attempt to understand it all. It is a tale of a young man growing up in a small town filled with the problem that most people face daily. Whether it is the loss of a loved family member, the loss of a valued friend, the fight of a young man to prove himself worthy of his family's expectations of him or simply to understand the motivations that move people through their daily lives.Mead is faced with a wealth of psychological matter that would confuse even the most intelligent of beings. This is a well written story, full of interesting characters with both usual and unusual motivation factors. It will keep a reader's interest and provides a satisfying ending. Jacoby is destined to be one of today's best fiction writers and this reviewer looks forward to her next work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
M. Ann Jacoby
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 9780446199711
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com
5 stars
Quirky and funny¿
M. Ann Jacoby offers readers an extradinary, thought-provoking, humorous plot. Life After Genius is the story of genius, Theodore ¿Mead¿ Fegley. Only eight days before graduation, eighteen-year-old Mead drops out of college. He returns home and joins his father and uncle in selling furniture and running a funeral home. Mead is a genius; he loves to learn. However, he has few social skills. His mother has controlled him all his life, and his father is indifferent. He has faced abuse and cruelty at the hands of his peers. He was so close to graduating. Why would he drop out with only eight days to go?
The clues to why Mead dropped out of college are woven throughout Life After Genius. This book is very humorous and yet sad. People really are cruel. Mead was passed through school so fast that he never really had an opportunity to mature socially. I have known people that seemed to have a ¿kick me¿ sign on their back. Mead comes across that way. We all want our kids to excel, but maybe there is such a thing as over excelling. I really like this book. It is amazing. I highly recommend Life After Genius.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Teddy Fegley is smart, very smart - in fact he's a genius. Having endured taunts and teasing all his life in his small town of High Grove, he is more than ready to escape this - and his mother. He refers to his mother as the six legged monster for her annoying habit of sitting in a chair watching him. Teddy is excited to go to University. He is young, only fifteen, but is more than ready to start fresh and decides to go by his middle name - Mead - and leave Teddy behind.

Cruelly, Mead discovers there will be no fresh start, other than academically. He struggles to fit in and find his place, but is again subjected to ridicule. He immerses himself in his studies and excels. His work on the Riemann Hypothesis - a math equation- is second to none.

A few days before his graduation, he abruptly leaves school and runs back home. Herman, the one friend he had made, may be at the root of the leaving. Mead wonders if he has foiled Herman's scheme.

"...watching his master plan crumble to pieces before his eyes...'

What scheme, what plan, what could Herman have possibly done to Mead that would make him leave his beloved studies?

At home his mother is determined to get to the bottom of things and fix it all. His father is patient, understanding and willing to let Mead tell him what's going on when he is ready to. Mead joins his father and uncle at the family furniture and undertaking business.

We are witness to the struggles of Teddy's childhood, and Mead's efforts to overcome the 'genius' label placed on him by both his family and the town. His family is not immune to discord either. There are many unresolved issues that come to light with Mead's return to High Grove. The story is told back and forth, from High Grove to the Chicago University. We slowly piece together what has happened between Mead and Herman.

It was sometimes difficult to read of the cruelty dished out to Teddy/Mead. He gamely keeps trying, optimistic again and again. He often does what he thinks is the right thing, only to have it turn out 'wrong'.

I enjoyed this novel very much. Mead is an engaging character, with a wonderful sense of humour and an indomitable spirit. Other characters are also drawn well, eliciting strong responses. This is a truly moving story of a young man who is book smart, but struggling to find his way outside of the books. You'll find yourself cheering for and laughing with Mead as he struggles to find his place in the world.