Justin (née David) takes life terribly serious -
already teetering on the edge of acute anxiety, he is pushed
over the edge when he saves his baby brother from "flying" out
the window and becomes determined to escape the hand of fate and
change his destiny. One might be tempted to write off his fears
as simple paranoia if it wasn't for the fact that the world
Justin inhabits is clearly just a little off kilter - adults in
general, in particular his parents, are clearly out of touch,
only the youngest children seem to be able to understand what
Justin is going through; added to which, Fate interjects his own
omnisciently sinister commentary from time to time, in a style
not dissimilar to
The Book Thief.
Like Rosoff's first book (How I Live Now) Just In Case is ostensibly a book for older teens, but it would be a great pity if this was the only audience to discover it. Reading Just In Case made me a little nostalgic for my younger self - not for those hideous teenage years in themselves that I'm happy to have put behind me by a few decades, but to a time when the ingredients of what was to become the adult "me" were still being mixed, and the ideas in a book had the ability to shape my thinking by dint of their very newness. Just In Case is the sort of book that in the right hands at the right time could do this, offering an ironic metaphysical and philosophical meditation on life's big topics - love and sex, faith and free will, illusion and reality, packaged into a short and genuinely sweet coming-of-age story.
This review was originally published in August 2006, and has been updated for the January 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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