Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 722
engaging YA contemporary
Overall rating
Writing Style
DEAR UNIVERSE follows Chamomile (Cham) during her senior year. She is trying to focus on living this year to its fullest by looking forward to prom, graduation, and the senior service trip far away. Her friends are talking about who is hooking up with whom and about college. Cham cannot imagine the future where she can be in college and therefore cannot write the critical college application essay.

She is angry with the universe for what is happening to her father. She keeps it a secret from everyone she knows that her father has Parkinson's and seems to be on a slow march to death. Never knowing when his last day might be, Cham is torn between wanting to be with him and just wanting to be normal. As no one knows, no one can relate. However, when a volun-cheer from the hospital turns out to be Brendan, the somewhat odd but unapologetically himself guy who wears tutus and has a bun, Cham feels an unwilling connection to someone who might understand what she is going through.

This book is interesting in a lot of ways. The reader is completely pulled into Cham's world and her anger. She seems to have a lot of anger for what is happening and the things that seem important but maybe just aren't. She had an anger incident that left her exiled from public school, and past anger management is mentioned (I do wish there had been some therapy for Cham, as she is dealing with a lot, especially with the familial denial of what is happening). In some ways, this was a really tough read, because Cham is falling apart on the inside and no one can really see it (except maybe Brendan).

This was definitely a page-turner, but I would have liked to get more resolution for Cham in terms of dealing with her anger and her father's terminal illness- therapy or family counseling or something along those lines. There are some places where she connects with Brendan, but there was the potential to really go deeper.

Overall, this was an engaging YA contemporary fiction that tackles some major themes in an approachable way.
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