Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux
by Geraldine McCaughrean
historical adventure
328 pages
New York : Harper, 2010

Pepper Roux grew up with both his mother and his Aunt Mireille caring for him. His father, a ship's captain, was forever at sea making only brief appearances throughout Pepper's childhood. Due to a a dream his aunt had the night before he was born, Pepper's life was unlike any other child his age. Saint Constance told her in a dream that Pepper would die before he was fourteen -years-old. With such a profound prediction, Pepper's aunt spent her whole existence in making sure he was ready to enter Heaven's Gates.  He didn't go to school as no one saw the point since he wouldn't live long enough to be able to make use of an education. With such an upbringing you would think he would be rather a depressing young man, but quite the opposite was true. Pepper was a very kind boy who just wanted people to be happy. He wakes up on the morning of his fourteenth birthday knowing it is the day he is going to die (according to Saint Constance and Aunt Mireille anyhow). Instead of sitting around the house with his mother and aunt watching him, awaiting the critical moment, Pepper chooses to flee. He can run away from his house and the staring eyes of his family, but can he outrun death. Pepper goes from one adventure to the next seeking peace and maybe someone who truly loves him. No doubt about it, this was a very strange book. I found it oddly intriguing at the same time. I absolutely loved Pepper though I didn't agree with some of his actions. I just kept thinking about the poor boy growing up constantly being told he was going to die at any moment, and not because of an illness, but just because his aunt had a dream. Despite all the negativity in his youth, Pepper was able to find the way to becoming his true self. Definitely not a book everyone will enjoy or even get all the ways through, but I am glad that I read it as it made me think.

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