cover image We Are All Made of Molecules

We Are All Made of Molecules

Susin Nielsen. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-553-49686-4

In this honest and funny portrayal of the difficult transitions that can come with blending families, 13-year-old Stewart is on board when his father decides they are moving in with his girlfriend, Caroline, and her daughter, Ashley. Socially awkward and cerebral, Stewart knows that it's time to move on after his mother's death and is excited to be gaining a sister. Fourteen-year-old Ashley feels otherwise ("My family is fubar" is her introduction to readers). Alternating between the teens' perspectives, Nielsen (The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen) humorously conveys Stewart's attempts to befriend Ashley, whose anger is actually about her father, who recently announced that he's gay and moved into the cottage in their yard. Stewart's analytical perspective and Ashley's sarcastic narration are as different as they are entertaining, though Nielsen perhaps has a bit too much fun at the expense of Ashley, who is prone to malapropisms ("Claudia hit the snail on the head") and thinks Idi Amin is one of her mother's colleagues. But both characters grow tremendously as they grapple with loss, navigate their differences, and find common ground. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. (May)