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Life After Genius Paperback – Bargain Price, October 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A boy genius has a rough go of it in college in Jacoby's uneven debut. While Theodore Mead Fegley's domineering mother looked over his shoulder and his father ran a funeral home and furniture store, Mead's early years were defined by bullies and comparisons to his popular, athletic cousin Percy. At 15, Mead is accepted to the prestigious Chicago University and put on the accelerated track to graduate in three years. With the help of the eccentric Dr. Alexander, Mead is determined to solve the Riemann Hypothesis, a conundrum that has plagued mathematicians for over a century. But Mead's life is soon thrown into disarray by Herman Weinstein, a cunning frenemy and fellow math student, and, as graduation—where Mead is supposed to give a much anticipated presentation—nears, Mead grows increasingly insecure. The tropes are familiar—troubled genius, overbearing mother, kooky mentor—and Jacoby, sadly, doesn't do much to tweak the formula. It's a pleasant enough diversion, but there's nothing especially exciting or original going on. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

This ought to be Mead Fegley's best time. He is just days away from college graduation at the tender age of 18 and honored with the chance to give a major presentation. Instead, he's hiding out at his family's funeral parlor looking for an escape into a different future. A boy genius pushed by his mother and terrorized by classmates, Mead heads for college with hopes of freedom and belonging. He quickly learns about academic politics but not quickly enough about friendship. Caught in intrigues beyond his understanding, he only has a few days to sort out what has gone wrong and how to fit the pieces of his life back together. The result is part mystery, part coming-of-age, and entirely engaging. This semiautobiographical novel by an award-winning book-jacket designer whose father was a math genius and whose grandfather was an undertaker is recommended for fiction collections.—Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll., NC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446199729
  • ASIN: B0046LUJ1Y
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,801,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born on the West Coast and raised on the East Coast, my father is from the Midwest and my mother from the South, so I consider myself a fairly well-rounded American. My interest in writing started when I was ten with a 'book' of poetry that I wrote for my fifth-grade teacher. "Keep it up," she jotted on the last page. And over the next twenty-five years, I did take a writing class here and there but my main creative outlet was as an art director for a publishing company where I still work designing book jackets and covers. I know it sounds all a little too premeditated but my commitment, finally, to writing a novel came through a need to express myself through words -- to tell stories -- not as a result of where I happen to work. For me they are two completely separate worlds.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By pawwap on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While I enjoyed reading this book at the beginning, I felt that is started going in circles and in the end did not provide particular insight or satisfaction. I am disappointed. It could have been much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Teddy Fegley is smart, very smart - in fact he's a genius. Having endured taunts and teasing all his life in his small town of High Grove, he is more than ready to escape this - and his mother. He refers to his mother as the six legged monster for her annoying habit of sitting in a chair watching him. Teddy is excited to go to University. He is young, only fifteen, but is more than ready to start fresh and decides to go by his middle name - Mead - and leave Teddy behind.

Cruelly, Mead discovers there will be no fresh start, other than academically. He struggles to fit in and find his place, but is again subjected to ridicule. He immerses himself in his studies and excels. His work on the Riemann Hypothesis - a math equation- is second to none.

A few days before his graduation, he abruptly leaves school and runs back home. Herman, the one friend he had made, may be at the root of the leaving. Mead wonders if he has foiled Herman's scheme.

"...watching his master plan crumble to pieces before his eyes...'

What scheme, what plan, what could Herman have possibly done to Mead that would make him leave his beloved studies?

At home his mother is determined to get to the bottom of things and fix it all. His father is patient, understanding and willing to let Mead tell him what's going on when he is ready to. Mead joins his father and uncle at the family furniture and undertaking business.

We are witness to the struggles of Teddy's childhood, and Mead's efforts to overcome the 'genius' label placed on him by both his family and the town. His family is not immune to discord either. There are many unresolved issues that come to light with Mead's return to High Grove. The story is told back and forth, from High Grove to the Chicago University.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By AmazUser on January 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Really enjoyed the first part of the book, it was quickly paced and gave reader insight into the life of a "genius" - skipping grades due to academics way before he was emotionally or socially prepared, being rejected and misunderstood by his classmates, having difficutly forming any friendships, etc. But a little more than half way through the novel, I began to find Mead annoying and began to sympathize more with his parents as they tried to reach out to him - albeit clumsily - to find out why he had dropped out. Why didn't they deserve an explanation of why he dropped out of college eight weeks before graduation? Mead seems to find that question totally unreasonable and believes that saying "I don't want to talk about it" is an acceptable response. Mead also seems to like noone (exc Dr Alexander) and to be overly critical of everyone else: he believes his mother is too controlling and cold, but his father is too passive and sensitive; and he even is unresponsive to his cousin, who has shown him kindness and tried to protect Mead over the years.

Mead claims not to want to be defined by his "genius" and rebels against being labeled. However, when he comes home from college for the first time, he can't believe his parents, aunt and uncle are not gushing about his stellar grades, even though they are all clearly distraught over the disappearance of his cousin. Mead feels his grades (and "genius") should trump his family's concern about his cousin's inexplicable disappearance!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary O. Garm on December 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mead Fegley is the kind of kid that other kids love to pick on. He's smaller than average, he lacks social graces, and he's a math genius. He heads off to college after graduating from high school at age 15, hoping that his life will change and that his fellow students will appreciate him for his intellectual talents. He continues to excel academically, but his youth and his awkward ways prevent him from developing real friendships.

This book works very well as a coming-of-age story. Mead is self-centered and introspective, in the way that most children and adolescents are, but his outsize intelligence exaggerates these qualities. He is bright and engaging and even likable in his internal musings, but becomes sarcastic and supercilious when he tries to relate to others. The author capably illustrates the difficulties faced by a child who stands out in a small town. Townspeople invariably categorize him as "the young Fegley genius."

Where the book falters is in Jacobi's treatment of Mead's life as a college student. He works hard and is singled out for academic honors, but he appears to suffer from some delusional episodes. In his relationship with Herman, his academic rival and social superior, the reader is hard pressed to distinguish between what is real and what is not.

I'm a sucker for a great title, but Life After Genius promises more than it delivers. The story is told mostly in flashbacks, after Mead inexplicably leaves college for his hometown a few days before graduation, but the reader never really learns whether or how Mead will conduct his life outside his carefully constructed world of mathematical genius.

While the book is interesting and, in some parts, quite compelling, overall, it suffers from inconsistencies and, perhaps, too ambitious a storyline. Jacobi could have saved some of the plot twists for other books and made this one simpler and more enjoyable. Nonetheless, I recommend it to readers of general fiction.
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