Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger

This is not a great classic, and I doubt many people remember it from the '80s despite the fact that it's written by Paula Danziger. But I loved this book when it first came out, and so when I found it again at the Friends of the Library sale, it was a no-brainer!

It is 2057 and Aurora, a popular, pretty high school student is shocked when her parents announce the family is joining the colony on the moon. One nice thing is although she's popular, she's not particularly mean (at least no meaner than any 13-year-old, popular or not.) She has friends, a new boyfriend, a fashionable wardrobe, a solid B average, and no desire to leave all of that. However, the family goes together. Once Aurora gets to the moon, she finds it's not so bad as she thought. For one thing the school is way too small to even have cliques, so for the first time she hangs out with kids who would have been unpopular back home, and finds out they're not so bad as she thinks. This book also introduced me to the play "Our Town." Eventually Aurora learns to expand her horizons, care about more than the next mood dress or Rita Retrograde music video, and that she can actually be more than just a cute, fun girl.

In 1986 this book was all conjecture about the future. 25 years later, there are a few glaring gaps, such as no ability to communicate electronically (they have to wait for vid-disks to be physically mailed.) But of course, Ms. Danziger did the best she could with the information she had! Also a lot of the guesses about pop music and fashion have a decidedly 80s-twinge to them. One futuristic thing I really appreciated was her attention to names. The grandparents, who were born around 2000, were named Josh and Jennifer. The teens in 2057 were named Aurora, Starr, Juna, Joandrew, Brandonetta, Cosmosa, and Tandy. There are also kids with ordinary names like Matthew and April and Julie, but I really appreciate that Ms. Danziger is aware of the changing nature of popular names, and made an effort to keep up with that.
While the book is obviously dated and not at all the kind of book that is popular now, it has a good message, is pretty unique, and is a quick, easy read. On the young side of YA (just a couple of light kissing scenes), it's perfect for a junior high girl with a light interest in sci fi. I'm showing my original cover (girl sitting cross-legged), along with the cover of the newer one I read this week, which was redesigned in 1999.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.


Julie P. said...

I'm not familiar with this one. Booking Daughter is a huge fan of Paula Danziger's so we'll be checking this one out.

Deetz said...

I totally remember this book!
Do you remember one about a girl who was really into fashion and goes to stay with her aunt who works at a big department store. The store has an annual Christmas party where there is always a big surprise gift. The niece accidentally gives away the surprise and they have to come up with a last minute gift idea. They end up making paint spattered painter's hats?
Random I know.