Cheng, Jack. See You in the Cosmos, Carl Sagan
February 28th 2017 by Dial Books
ARC provided by the publisher
Alex Petroski loves his dog, Carl Sagan, and the idea of space travel. He lives with his mother, who is from the Philippines and has been severely depressed after the death of his father. He decides to travel alone to a rocket festival in order to try to send his gold spray painted iPod with recording for alien civilizations into space, leaving prepared meals for his mother in the refrigerator. His rocket doesn't do well, but he falls into company with Zed and Steve, who thinks it's a great idea to drive with Alex to Las Vegas, where he thinks his father might still be living. When they get to the address Alex found online, he meets Terra, who is his half-sister. Alex is a very naive eleven, and doesn't quite understand why his father had two families. Even though Carl Sagan runs off and gets lost, Terra decides to go with Steve and Zed to Los Angeles to meet up with Alex's much older brother, Ronnie. When Ronnie is not in LA and Terra has some personal problems with Steve, the group returns to Alex's home in Colorado. His mother is nowhere to be found, and when he is on the roof looking for her, Alex falls and is gravely injured. Ronnie flies in, the mother is located, and plans must be put in place for Alex's care.
Strengths: This has a very unique voice and writing style; most of it is told through the dialogue that Alex is recording on his iPod. Alex is a very sheltered character in very grim circumstances. I sort of wondered if he was on the autism spectrum, but this is never explicitly said. The tie in with space is nice.
Weaknesses: I couldn't suspend my disbelief long enough for this to work for me. There are a lot of coincidences and a lot of adults making very poor choices for this to seem realistic, especially when Carl Sagan is found and returned.
What I really think: Sarah Sammis was right-- there are more road trip books out there than I thought! I'd prefer How to Avoid Extinction or The Someday Birds over this one. I think students might be very confused by the way this is written.