Genre: Realistic fiction, mystery
Jeremy Fink's dad died when he was eight years old. One month before his thirteenth birthday, he recieves a mysteriously heavy box with four keyholes. Engraved on the lid are the words THE MEANING OF LIFE: FOR JEREMY FINK TO OPEN ON HIS 13TH BIRTHDAY.
The keys are not included.
Jeremy and his only friend, a kleptomaniac redhead named Lizzy, search flea markets, offices, and antique stores in effort to find the keys. Their search is fruitless, even before one of Lizzy's plans backfires and they're caught breaking and entering during their search for the keys. How can Jeremy find the keys in time for his birthday if he's forced to spend the rest of the summer making deliveries for a pawn shop owner as community service? But Mr. Oswald isn't exactly what he seems, and neither are the packages. And why is he letting his chauffer drive Jeremy and Lizzy around in his limo to deliever them? Even worse, all the hippies, scientists, preachers, fortune tellers, and tattoo artists they meet in the process seem to have a different meaning of life.
Jeremy is a very interesting character, though I can only describe him as nerdy and socially awkward. Halfway through the book, I stopped and made a list of Ways Jeremy Fink is Lame. He collects mutant candy, keeps a life size hobbit cutout in his room, doesn't see why anybody would need more than one friend, devotes an hour each night to studying the mysteries of the universe, and refuses to venture four blocks from his own home.
Then I realized if I knew enough about him to make such a list, he must therefore be a very unique and fully developed character. Wendy Mass has done her job well.