The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder is a young adult coming-of-age story centering around best friends Hannah and Zoe. We experience the story from Hannah’s point of view as she details the life of two girls in a lake town in New Jersey who want to escape from their crappy lives. Zoe decides that the two of them need to get away, which results in them taking a cross-country road trip.
I read Wendy Wunder’s first novel, The Probability of Miracles, a few years ago, and while it wasn’t my favorite book, I remembered enjoying it. Unfortunately, that was not the case with this book.
The biggest problem with this book was that everything was told to us instead of shown. There were also some things that were being explained to the reader that I personally thought didn’t need to be explained.
One of the interesting and weirdest things about this book is Zoe’s Museum of Intangible Things, a series of “exhibits” she designs for her younger brother Noah to help teach him the complexities of the world. It’s unclear to me if Noah has autism or some other sort of disability and that is why Zoe made this museum or if it was supposed to be one of her “quirks.” Whatever the case, I thought it would have a more prominent role considering it is where the title of the book gets its name. It is really only mentioned briefly in one of the early chapters and not touched on again, apart from maybe one time in an offhand comment during the road trip.
The characters in this book were just plain annoying. Zoe was the manic pixie dream girl to her best friend, the girl that could be a party girl and be a “normal” teenager one minute and then the next moment she believes that aliens are coming to get her. Hannah is a doormat who just goes along with anything Zoe tells her to. Even when Zoe makes her do illegal things during this road trip of theirs, and they learn that their parents are looking for them, Hannah doesn’t try to ask Zoe to at least consider contacting home or get her to turn the car around. She just goes along with it, I guess because Zoe is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she doesn’t want to upset her, but none of this seems healthy or helpful for Zoe. No, this whole story instead is about Zoe helping Hannah become a more outgoing person, because obviously Hannah’s love life and need to grow a backbone (which she never does) is more important than helping Zoe get the support she needs.
The love interest, Danny, was also unnecessary and awful. He worked as an ice cream truck vendor near Hannah’s hot dog stand by the lake, and supposedly they have been secretly in love with each other since they were young until he got a girlfriend around middle school/early high school. It was never clear if he actually broke up with his girlfriend to be with Hannah, and he even said that he was only with that girl so he could have a “practice girlfriend.” Hannah, honey, I don’t care how in love you think you are with this guy you’ve had four conversations with. Leave him.
There were a few times where I thought I should just DNF this book, but I wanted to give it a fair chance. Now it is done and I’m sad to say it left me bored and a little annoyed.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars.
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