The Humanity Project by Jean Thompson

the humanity project

  • Title:  The Humanity Project
  • Author:  Jean Thompson
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  April 2013 – Blue Rider Press
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (publisher):  After surviving a shooting at her high school, Linnea is packed off to live with her estranged father, Art, who doesn’t quite understand how he has suddenly become responsible for raising a sullen adolescent girl. Art’s neighbor, Christie, is a nurse distracted by an eccentric patient, Mrs. Foster, who has given Christie the reins to her Humanity Project, a bizarre and well-endowed charity fund. Just as mysteriously, no one seems to know where Conner, the Fosters’ handyman, goes after work, but he has become the one person Linnea can confide in, perhaps because his own home life is a war zone: his father has suffered an injury and become addicted to painkillers. As these characters and many more hurtle toward their fates, the Humanity Project is born: Can you indeed pay someone to be good? At what price?

My take:  Filled with colorful characters and of-the-moment circumstances and events, The Humanity Project reminded me of a Cat’s Cradle string game. Everyone is connected and their lives seem to be an intricately woven mess. Humanity, right?

Most of the characters have been marginalized by family or society. From a young teen who witnessed a school shooting to the down-on-his-luck divorced father who just can’t seem to catch a break to the wealthy widow whose children seem to be waiting for her to die so they can gain their inheritance – they and several other remarkable characters share the spotlight. Remarkable maybe, but not all that likable.

Can a foundation such as The Humanity Project help those in need? Or will it encourage greed on different levels? And where did that money come from in the first place? Do some people even want to be helped? I had my own little book club discussion in my head as I read. I appreciated the epilogue from one character’s perspective that let me in on what happened to some of the other characters. I wanted some sort of resolution and that was close enough.