Today we have Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley! This is a cute book that doesn’t really have warnings for much…maybe a few sexist jokes. You’ll like this book if you’re fond of cartoon-y styles, moral lessons, or feel-good storytelling.

Plot: Katie, a 29-year-old restaurant chef, discovers mushrooms that helps her erase mistakes.

Initial thoughts: Scott Pilgrim is on my to-read list, so I thought I’d pick this one up too. Unlike O’Malley’s better known series, Seconds is a single book, chunky, and rendered in full color. It makes for a fun read, even if the plot is simple and a bit stereotypical. Despite her flaws, Katie is enjoyable to follow and I ended up rooting for her even as my thoughts were the exact opposite of her actions. That said, there’s nothing especially unique about the story. It’s pretty cliche with a good ol’ moral at the end, but still pretty cute. Also, there’s a great cameo of Scott and Ramona.

Unlike Scott PilgrimSeconds has a sort of timeless and placeless setting. The anxiety that the events in this story could happen anywhere ties in with the moral lesson, but I think this universal quality is actually a disservice to the book. With more fleshing of the context, even small details, the setting could have grown into a certain charm.

Itty Bitty Research: I figure I’ll do something sort of relevant to the story but not quite and look up house hauntings. Fourth of July is right around the corner, so I was delighted to find out it’s rumored the White House is haunted. Occupied by every USA president since 1800, it makes sense that some paranormal activity would exist in a building now over 200 years old. While Lincoln’s ghost is the most famous of White House hauntings, it’s by no means the only one. The  Association has compiled a list of paranormal activity in the White House, including William Henry Harrison, the first president to die in the White House, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson.

The most famous stories circle around President Lincoln. Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, even held seances in the building, and if that’s not badass, I don’t know what is. As is famously rumored, she held seances in order to contact her son, Willie, who died at the tender age of 12 following a bout with typhoid fever. Lincoln and Mary Todd had four children, and all but one died at age 18 or younger. I’m not sure if she ever tried to contact any of her other sons, but she was determined to speak with Willie.

Although Mary Todd was the superstitious one, Lincoln’s ghost is famous in the White House. A brief history of the development of paranormal activity in the White House has been developed by the White House Historical Association, which includes a humourous speculation that Lincoln’s ghost may have taken offense to Harry Truman’s practical joke to impersonate him. Regardless, as Patrick Kiger of National Geographic points out in his article on sightings of Lincoln’s ghosts, it’s funny that Mary Todd should be so consumed with speaking to her dead sons or Lincoln’s ghost sighted when Lincoln was reported to be a non-believer when it came to the afterlife.

Rating: 3.8/5

References: O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Seconds. New York: Ballantine Books, 2014. Print.


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