Last week I read Jack Cheng’s debut novel for young readers, See You In the Cosmos, and even after starting a new book over the weekend, Cheng’s novel is sticking to me. I keep thinking about Alex….
Alex, is eleven-years-old, and more than anything, he wants to launch his Golden iPod into space. Alex’s inspiration (and the name of his dog) is Carl Sagan who, in “real life,” launched a Golden Record into space in 1977. The novel is made up of a series of messages Alex records on his iPod to tell the aliens (or other “beings” out there) what his life is like. But the genius of the novel is that Alex doesn’t really understand very much about his own life. The story opens in Colorado where Alex lives with his mentally troubled mother, but the action soon shifts to a rocket festival in New Mexico, a search for Alex’s father in Las Vegas and finally to Los Angeles where Alex, along with friends he has met along the way, go to find Alex’s older brother. The beauty of the novel is that, as the story progresses, Alex’s life comes into sharper focus – he discovers a half-sister and two supportive new friends. He also learns about his mother’s mental health issues and his father’s complicated past.
This is a poignant novel for mature upper elementary and middle school readers. It’s also a book I would recommend to a young person who is starting to ask “big questions.” It’s equally funny and serious about how we discover our passions and that sometimes growing up means meeting people where they are.
Last week was Inly’s spring book fair, and as always, there was lots of excitement about animal books and graphic novels and the Guinness Book of World Records!
There were matching outfits…..
Serious list makers….
And a board so people could share the book currently on their nightstand….