cover image Everything Else in the Universe

Everything Else in the Universe

Tracy Holczer. Putnam, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-16394-4

Holczer’s perceptive novel, set in 1971, opens as 12-year-old Lucy Rossi’s father returns home from Vietnam missing his right arm. Lucy and her parents have always been a mutually supportive team. Expecting this dynamic to continue, careful Lucy (who relies on her “behavioral comfort routines”) studies up on amputees and prosthetics, only to find her father resistant to her efforts. Bewildered by the change in her family, Lucy feels left out and unloved, particularly after she’s relegated to spending the days next door with her uncle’s boisterous family. A new friendship with Milo, who tells her his father is fighting in Vietnam, helps; his interest in dragonflies mirrors Lucy’s in rocks, and after they discover a soldier’s personal effects, they work together to find the owner. Affectingly tracing Lucy’s struggles with her altered family, Holczer also credibly portrays the conflicting views on the war, from protestors to former vets. Well-grounded in its era and peopled by fully realized characters, the book is a resonant historical novel and a thoughtful exploration of how war and injury affect family, friendships, and individual growth. Ages 10–up. [em](June) [/em]