Monday, July 06, 2015
MMGM- We Are All Made of Molecules
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.
Nielsen, Susin. We Are All Made of Molecules
May 12th 2015 by Wendy Lamb Books
Public library copy.
Stewart is the very definition of a nerd-- loves academics, socially awkward, eccentric. His father is a bit that way as well, but after the death of Stewart's mother, meets Caroline, a newswoman who works at the same station he does, and the two decide to combine their families. Caroline's daughter, Ashley, is an obnoxious, not-very-bright fashionista who refers to Stewart as "[Leonard's] midget-egghead-freakazoid of a son". Part of Ashley's trauma is due to the fact that her much loved father has left her mother and moved into the guest house on the property... because he's gay. Ashley is afraid that her friends will be "gayist" and the fact that her father is gay will hurt her social standing. She ignores Stewart completely until he tells her he has spoken to Jared, on whom Ashley has a crush. Stewart manages to help facilitate their relationship, but Jared turns out to be a complete and utter jerk. Stewart is still dealing with missing his mother, but in a healthy and productive way. His mother lived a very different kind of life from Caroline's, but the two families, along with Ashley's father, manage to fashion a somewhat harmonious coexistence.
Strengths: Ashley is obnoxious, but for good reason, and she does change and grow. Stewart knows that he's a work in progress and attempts daily to become more social and to get along with Caroline. Seeing his thought process was marvelous. The grief is addressed in a healthy manner-- no one is so stricken that it's impossible to go on. What a relief! The story with Ashley's father was well done and very realistic. This is a great read for boys AND girls, and I adore that the cover has cross gender appeal. Bravo!
Weaknesses: The situation with Jared comes perilously close to being too young adult, but this is a great book for both middle and high school libraries, since Stewart is in 8th grade, and Ashley is in 9th. Brilliant how Stewart draws on a lesson from his mother to save Ashley from a bad situation. Several reviewers approached this book as Young Adult and felt Stewart was too young, and that the attempted assault made this definitely YA. For whatever reason, middle school students LOVE to read about problems such as this, and Stewart was spot on for an awkward 8th grader. The father's homosexuality could have been addressed more, but that wasn't really the focus of the book-- just Ashley's reaction to it.
What I really think: Not a huge fan of this author usually, but I adored this.