See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Alex is on a mission to send his golden ipod into space. It will be like the Voyager Golden Records, except it will contain all the sounds Alex records of the life around him. To launch his ipod, Alex is heading to SHARF, or the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival. He has booked his tickets, packed his bags, and cooked enough food for his mom to last her through the week. All that’s needed is to make it to the festival with his best friend and best pet, Carl Sagan.

Alex is an engaging narrator. It is hard not to be charmed by the way he sees the world around him. He records his adventures on his ipod, always leaving the reader with a new perspective and numerous questions. For a young boy, he has profound and poignant observations on life, often expressed with his disarming good humour and resilient spirit.

He is also fiercely intelligent. With his mother having a lot of “quiet days”, and his older brother working in another state, Alex has learned to fend for himself. His passion for science and his optimistic outlook on life is what keeps him chugging along. They’re also the qualities that make him an endearing hero. He has a heart that is big enough to love the entire world, and a mind eager to know all its secrets.

There were some sections that felt a little unrealistic. Several of the adults in Alex’s adventure simply go along with his suggestions, and given his situation (a kid, alone on a trip, with only a dog and ipod for company), I couldn’t quite suspend disbelief. Otherwise, this is a fun, adventurous story that also examines the deeper questions in life. Alex’s journey involves both pitfalls and triumphs, and he handles both with his aplomb and good humour.  If you like fiction about science, road trips, and unlikely friends discovering the joys and pains of life, then this book is the one for you.

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Faustina was reading when she popped out of the womb. Probably. Reading is her life, and she’ll read pretty much anything. After reading her way through primary, high school, and university, and finding she hasn’t gotten sick of it, she’s still reading now. Her favourite genres are YA, realist fiction, and magical realist fiction, with a strong focus on diversity. She believes that houses should have in-built bookshelves in all the rooms, and that ebooks and printed books can get along.

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