See You in the Cosmos

See You in the Cosmos

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See You in the Cosmos
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
10+
Release Date
February 28, 2017
ISBN
978-0399186370
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11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew. Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

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Big Dreams, Big Themes

Eleven-year-old Alex has dreams that extend beyond the stratosphere. His main goal, of course, is to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Carl Sagan, and launch his rocket, Voyager 3, and his golden iPod into space. But as he travels with his dog—also named Carl Sagan—to New Mexico for a rocket festival, he is also excited about meeting up with the others from the internet rocket forums he is part of. Much to his amazement, though, the rocket launch is just the beginning of the adventure. Turning his sights ever toward the truth (like Carl Sagan), Alex, along with a growing group of friends, journeys throughout New Mexico, Nevada, California, and back home to Colorado. Along the way, he learns more about his father, who died when he was young, about loss, bravery, and perseverance, and that some pretty cosmic connections can happen right here on Earth.

It is impossible to resist Alex’s earnest and relentless desire to understand, his charming sense of humor, and his unbridled commitment to those he loves. In writing Alex’s character, Cheng could so easily have crossed over into the realm of either the saccharine or the obnoxious, but he avoids both deftly, and ultimately, it is Alex’s unique, wise, and hilarious voice that has stayed with me. This is appropriate since the book is written as a series of voice recordings on Alex’s golden iPod, a move which allows Cheng to stay closely within Alex’s perspective most of the time, but also introduces us to the perspective of Alex’s fellow-voyagers, each of whom is, in their own way, also pursuing truth and finding family.

The sign of a good novel is that when you finish it, you realize you are both more interested in the world and emotionally richer than you were before you started it. The sign of a great novel is that you feel this way from page one.

See You in the Cosmos is a great novel.

Good Points
Strong voice; compelling and endearing characters; sensitive and loving portrayal of some difficult themes.
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