See You in the Cosmos
Jack Cheng. Dial, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-18637-0
Alex Petroski, the idiosyncratic 11-year-old narrator of Cheng’s poignant and funny first novel, dutifully records his thoughts and adventures into an iPod, “so when intelligent beings millions of light-years away find it one day they’ll know what Earth was like.” The result is a propulsive stream-of-conscious dive into Alex’s life as he sets off alone from Colorado with his dog, Carl Sagan (named after Alex’s personal hero), to launch the iPod into space at the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival in New Mexico. There, he encounters an eclectic cast of rocket enthusiasts and persuades two new adult friends, one of whom has taken a vow of silence, to take him to Las Vegas to track down his supposedly dead father. The trip continues as Alex meets his half-sister, resolves the mystery about his father, and travels on to Los Angeles to find his older brother. Details about his mother and her “quiet days,” mentioned throughout, take on increasing importance, especially once Alex returns home. Alex’s strong voice drives this compelling personal journey with resonant themes of family, friendship, and resilience. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)
This review has been corrected to reflect an updated title for the book.
Reviewed on: 12/05/2016