"Up and Down" by Terry Fallis
David Turner has left his job in Ottawa on Parliament Hill for the fast paced world of international public relations. But as soon as he realizes it's a world he's not quite prepared for, he's thrown in head first with no life preserver in sight.
David's first major project is to come up with a way to revitalize public interest in NASA's space program - it turns out most people would rather go out for lunch with their friends than watch a shuttle launch. Thinking they wouldn't expect much from him on his first day he throws out the most out of this world idea he can think of - a Citizen Astronaut lottery that would send one Canadian and one American into space on the next launch.
Baffled by the fact that they actually go for the idea, David finds himself thrown into the sea of politics behind the scenes at a PR agency as well as Canadian-American relations. And when he's sent into a remote area of British Columbia to find Canada's citizen astronaut he finds himself torn between keeping his job and doing the right thing.
Up and Down by Terry Fallis is a hilarious, intelligent, and hard to put down novel that screams Canada. If I had to choose one book to share that captures our humour, character and all around quirkiness, it would be this one.
This book has two of my favourite characters to come along in a novel in a long time. David's dry sense of humour and witty observations of everything and everyone around him had me in stitches. He is someone you would love to have around you to lighten up any situation. Landon, the Canadian lottery winner, to me is everything Canada is - feisty, funny, inventive, dedicated and just a little off the wall. The scenes in which David visits Landon in her remote BC home to me are quintessentially Canadian (even though I've never actually been to that part of the country.) And of course the portrayal of a few of the Americans provide quite a good laugh - unless of course, you're American (insert wink emoticon here, it's all in good fun.)
Anyone who has ever had an interest in space will thoroughly enjoy this novel. It takes you inside NASA, inside the space shuttle and out of this world. Any book that gets the quote "a rollicking good ride" on the front cover from Marc Garneau (the first Canadian in space) is bound to satisfy the space lover in everyone.
This isn't a fast-paced read but it's steadily fantastic. How hard was it for me to put down? I read it while walking to pick my daughter up from the school bus. While walking. I only looked up to cross the road, and if I didn't live in a neighbourhood with terrible drivers, I probably wouldn't have even done that. Up and Down is easily one of my favourite books of the year.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.