We Are All Made of Molecules (2015)

19405297I was blown away by this affecting, hilarious, insightful book about a blended family told from two very different points of view.

Recommended grade level: 7-10

Pages: 256 (for ISBN 9780553496864)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, humor, Kylie’s favorites, Canadian author, international, North America (Canada)

Tone/Style: optimistic (Stewart), judgmental (Ashley)

Pace: fast

Topics: blended families, divorce, gifted students, popularity, homosexual parents, secrets, dating

Themes: grief and loss, change, self-acceptance, shame, true friends

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant, but socially clueless.  Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her grade, but her marks stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. “The Brady Bunch” it isn’t. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, but Ashley is 110% horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: They – like the rest of us – are all made of molecules.

In this hilarious yet deeply moving story, award-winning author Susin Nielsen has created two narrators who will steal your heart and make you laugh out loud. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Readers who like to read to experience different points of view will enjoy the two voices. Stewart is a refreshingly well-adjusted nerd, and Ashley is a fascinating mean girl. This is realistic fiction that can easily draw in both boys and girls. I’d give this to anyone who likes well-told and insightful realistic fiction that blends drama, sadness, and humor.

Who won’t like this book?: The book deals with a few topics that may concern some conservative readers, mainly homosexuality and sexual harassment.

Other comments: I appreciate how this book treat’s Ashley’s bullying, unwise decisions, and feelings about her dad’s homosexuality with empathy, honesty, and an ultimate attitude of acceptance and empowerment.

Sequel(s):

Readalikes: Try Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff and Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend for more thoughtful realistic fiction involving stepfamilies. Readers interested in books from the point of view of mean kids can try Crash by Jerry Spinelli and The Fall by James Preller.

-Kylie Peters

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