cover image The Science of Breakable Things

The Science of Breakable Things

Tae Keller. Random House, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1566-3

Natalie Napoli’s seventh-grade science class is working on a yearlong experiment, recording their findings in “Wonderings journals.” The text of Natalie’s journal comprises Keller’s moving debut novel. Natalie used to like science and spent much of her childhood in her botanist mother’s laboratory. But her mother, suffering from severe depression, has barely left her bedroom in months. Natalie and her best friend Twig collaborate with new student Dari to win an egg drop contest for their experiment, and Natalie imagines using the prize money to fly with her mother to New Mexico, home to a striking cobalt blue orchid, born out of a toxic chemical spill, that her mother had been studying. Natalie’s Korean heritage is sensitively explored, as is the central issue of depression and its impact; Keller draws thoughtful parallels between Natalie’s mother’s struggles and the fragility of orchids and eggs. Natalie’s fraught relationship with her mother, and her friendships with Twig and Dari, are the heart of the book, but science is its soul. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (Mar.) [/em]