See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng (2017)

See You in the Cosmos, by Jack ChengI cheerfully admit to being a low-level space geek, and I can pinpoint my interest precisely to September 1977, when Voyager II and Voyage I (yup, in that order) were launched into space in search of interstellar pals. Each spacecraft carried a Golden Record intended to introduce any intelligent life to life on Earth. Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski has decided to launch Voyager III, complete with a Golden iPod filled with his own recordings for aliens to discover. Overtly a transcript of his recordings, this creative heart-filled novel tells the story of Alex’s remarkable journey over several days, both literally and figuratively. Literally, he and his beloved pup Carl Sagan travel from his home in Colorado to the Southwest High Altitude Rocket Festival in Albuquerque where Alex will launch his homemade rocket into space. He’s just 11, though at least 13 in responsibility years, so he gets some needed help along the way. While at SHARF, he makes friends with a bald hobbit-y guy named Zen and his entrepreneurial roommate Steve, recording those interactions faithfully. When Alex learns there’s a man in Vegas with the same name and birthdate as his own long-dead father, his new friends agree to take him there, then on to Los Angeles where his older brother Ronnie lives. Alex doesn’t see Ronnie often, but his brother sends money to support Alex and his mum. Figuratively, Alex’s travels lead him to discover that like the universe, one’s circle of family and friends is always expanding. This novel deals with some serious issues, like child services and schizophrenia, in a way that is accessible for young readers. The writing is original and strong, with authentic characters and voices. But it’s Alex who will steal your heart. When Terra explains that a fling is “when two people love each other for a really short time and then they go their separate ways,” Alex informs her “Oh, I had a fling too.” Prodded by Terra to unpack his statement, Alex then describes his brief Grade 4 dalliance with a girl named Emily who moved away. He quickly notes it was for the best since “we were both too young and she’s not really my type anyway.” Oh, sweet boy. There are a few f-bombs, but overall this is a humourous, tender coming of age novel that won`t soon leave your thoughts. Plus there is a plethora of astronomy jokes. What’s not to love? My thanks to publisher Dial Books for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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