In a cruel genetic twist, thirteen-year-old Lee, afflicted with Progeria (a premature aging disease) speeds through the aging process and approaches death. Fascinated by the life of Ben Franklin, his final wish is to visit the Franklin Institute and White House in Philadelphia and Washington DC. Due to a family mix-up that keeps his single mother in Newark, Lee’s new caretaker Tomas—a survivor of Argentina’s Dirty War—agrees to take Lee instead. Lee, fighting the acceleration of time, and Tomas, fighting a past filled with memories of imprisonment and torture, help each other pursue a final quest—for Lee it is the ghost of Ben Franklin, for Tomas his missing family, “disappeared” in the war and possibly living in Philadelphia. One heading inevitably towards death, the other fleeing it, Lee and Tomas share their unsettling truths with each other.
Praise for What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me
“This largehearted, beautifully written novel takes us on an unforgettable quest with an unforgettable character. Lee, the charming, vibrant, dying child at the novel’s core, reminds us that the true source of light is in the people around us and that each moment offers us the choice of how best to spend our precious hours on this earth. Compassionate, funny, and deeply moving, What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me is full to the brim with intelligence and love.”
-Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of The Five Wounds and Night at the Fiestas
“This story belongs to Lee, a child whose questioning mind and uncanny eloquence will teach you how to die and how to live, and ultimately how to survive beyond the final pages of Donna Gordon’s astonishing novel, What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me.”
-Pamela Painter, author of Fabrications
“What Ben Franklin Would Have Told Me is a fascinating, heartrending novel that will challenge what you thought you knew about the human condition.”
-Rachel Weaver, author of Point of Direction