Thanks a Lot, Universe

Featured
Thanks a Lot, Universe
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
10+
Release Date
May 11, 2021
ISBN
978-1419751028
Buy This Book
      
Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn't know if things will ever be normal again . . . Ezra's always been popular. He's friends with most of the kids on his basketball team, even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he's too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they're willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they'd rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves and each other.

Editor review

1 review
Hesitation Moves
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Brian has anxiety at the best of times. He manages at school, and was on the basketball team, but he craves quiet and finds navigating the hallways of middle school difficult. It doesn't help when jerks like Victor call him "Ghost" and poke fun at his quiet ways. Ezra doesn't have these problems. He was also on the basketball team, and has a core group of friends. Some of them, like Caleb, often make sexist or racist comments, but others like Kev and Ty are generally a good bunch. When Brian's life implodes and he and his younger brother end up in foster care, Brian's anxiety causes him to act out in school. His father, who is in danger of being arrested, contacts him through a friend and tells Brian that there is $10,000 in an account for him. His social worker is less than understanding, but his teachers go to bat for him. One, Ms. McClelland, even takes him and his brother in. Ms. McClelland's husband was killed in the army, and their son Gabe, who is in high school, is very supportive of Brian. Gabe helps him through panic attacks, sleepless nights, and accepting the help that therapy provides. Ezra continues to be friends with Brian, even after he is suspended for punching his tormentor. Ezra knows that he is supportive in part because he has a crush on Brian, and is wary about letting him know lest it hurt their friendship. Will Brian's family be able to pull together enough to get the boys out of foster care, and will Ezra's newly announced identity affect his friendship with Brian?
Good Points
This is exactly the type of "sad" that my students crave: catastrophic family events that cause the children to get by on their own. Brian's emotions are understandable, and informative, especially for teachers who might have students who are in similar family circumstances. The teachers are exceptionally understanding, and model good behavior. Brian has to be punished, but it is in a thoughtful way. Ezra's emotions are well portrayed, and I liked that he had good support from his sister and from most of his friends. Even his friend who was a bit jerky treated him reasonably. The inclusion of basketball is always good.

This is perhaps a difference because of the current trend in books to explore race more thoroughly-- I sometimes was not sure what race a character was. Race was not much of an issue in the book, although there were some insensitive comments, and there were plenty of other things going on. Perhaps I was expecting the issue of race to be more involved because this was set in Canada, and I wasn't quite sure what the levels of diversity were there. In my community, there are a wide variety of backgrounds.

This jumped right in to the family problems, which will firmly keep student interest well into the book, and Ezra's crush isn't discussed at length until about half way through the book. At that point, readers will be invested in what happens to both him and Brian. This is, sadly, really important when it comes to gay characters. I still have boys who will use the term "gay" negatively, and have to be instructed about how hurtful this is. They often have no idea what they are really saying. Perhaps for this reason, while the girls in my school frequently ask for LGBTQIA+ titles, the boys are reluctant to pick them up. This was similar to Pancholy's The Best at It, in that the main character's coming out wasn't central to the story, but just part of the emerging story line. The readers who don't want to read about gay characters are the ones who should be reading about them, and this is an excellent book to promote positive behaviors and understanding. A good companion to Jung's Boys in the Back Row.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account