Going Bovine: A Pop-Culture, Mind Bender

“I’m just saying it’s not all sand castles and ninjas.”

One of my favorite titles featured on the On Our Shelves display in the CRC is Libba Bray’s Going Bovine. Yes, that is the title. Sounds a bit crazy, right? Well, let me show you the cover:

The cover for Going Bovine

Yes, that’s a gnome (complete with aviators) being carried by a cow. And yes, both cows and gnomes factor largely into this hysterical, thought-provoking Printz winner.

Cameron, our angst-ridden protagonist, is coasting through life – skipping class, avoiding pleasantries with his family at all cost and just trying to make it through high school. Until he’s diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, aka the human version of Mad Cow disease, which doesn’t exactly have the best long-term outlook. Before Cameron can process what’s going on in his life, Dulcie appears. Dulcie, with her punk-rock pink hair, ripped fishnets and white wings spray-painted with cows. Cameron thinks the hallucinations have begun, but Dulcie explains there is a way to stop his illness – and all it involves is a road trip, a neurotic dwarf, a Norse god entombed in the body of a yard gnome, music and universe hopping. And that’s just the first week.

Going Bovine is a fun road-trip read filled with Spring Break television shows, gas-station food and some awkward run-ins with siblings. But it is also about death and how disease can affect and change a person along with family and friends. I laughed out loud more times than I can count, but I was also incredibly moved by Cameron’s story.

Bray won the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award for the book and her acceptance speech is as brilliant, fun and interesting as the book she wrote.

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