All the Major Constellations

Pratima Cranse. Viking, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-01645-7
A life-changing tragedy just before high school graduation leaves Andrew without the support of his two best friends as he faces a lonely summer navigating his family’s alcoholic dysfunction. Newcomer Cranse deftly portrays Andrew’s confused attempts to cope; the phrase “moving through darkness” repeats throughout the book. His longing for a place to belong leaves him unexpectedly open to new relationships, particularly with Laura, an enigmatic girl he has adored for years. The novel’s sympathetic portrayal of Laura’s fundamentalist Christian youth group captures familiar cliques and rivalries inherent in any teenage gathering, and respectfully conveys the members’ varied and complex religious experiences (most compellingly that of John, “a born-again surfer-dude warrior on the cover of a fantasy book,” whose faith condemns his sexual orientation). As Andrew, despite his agnosticism, participates in Bible studies, soup kitchens, conversations, and hikes, he wonders about personal experiences that feel surprisingly spiritual: “he’d felt—he didn’t know another way to describe it—moved.” Set in her native Vermont, Cranse’s compassionate debut astutely conveys the joys, heartaches, and angst of coming-of-age. Ages 14–up. Agent: Esmond Harmsworth, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 11/10/2015
Genre: Children's
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