BOOK REVIEW OF PLANK’S LAW

34412153I must admit that I was first drawn to this title because I’m a physicist and I inadvertently read the title as Planck’s Law, the law of physics involving blackbody radiation. I was curious to see how somebody could make fiction out of this physics principle. Of course, the title is actually Plank’s Law, and has nothing to do with physics. I didn’t realize this until I was reading the plot blurb about the book. When I realized my mistake, I was momentarily annoyed that someone would try to trick physicists in this manner. Until it occurred to me that the ‘fiction for physicists’ market would be so infinitesimal that the author would have to be nuts to seek it out on purpose. By this time, I’d read the blurb and was interested anyway.

The book concerns a teenager, Trevor, dealing with a fatal Huntington’s diagnosis. Given that this is a YA book, this is pretty heavy subject matter. The novel opens with Trevor on the edge of a cliff, beginning to at least imagine what suicide would be like, and if it might be a better option for everyone. This is when Plank shows up, a quirky 93-year-old with a snarky manner that interests Trevor and distracts him from his morbid thoughts. They begin a friend/mentor relationship that advises Trevor throughout the book. Plank’s Law turns out to be a personal philosophy to “stop trying to make sense of things and bloody well live your life.”

Key characters as the story develops are contemporaries Sara and Antonio. Antonio is a reckless best friend who disappears from the story, much to Trevor’s dismay, because of a move far away. Sara is a cancer patient with an easy beauty, both inside and out, who embraces Plank’s Law with Trevor as they deal with their diseases together. She eventually helps Trevor get back in contact with Antonio. The way these relationships develop is engaging and convincing and drew me along through three-quarters of the novel. Near the end, things seem rushed and less convincing. I found myself feeling unsatisfied by the end, probably because I expected a better wrap-up after such an artful build-up. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile novel dealing with very serious subjects.

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