Buy We Are All Made Of Molecules
Special price $14.91 Regular price: $16.99
Publisher: Tundra Books
Reviewer: Melissa on June 25, 2015
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Thirteen-year-old Stewart is an academic genius but has a lot to learn socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is THE most popular girl in her class, but her report card leaves something to be desired. These opposites collide when Stewart and his dad move across town to live with Ashley and her mom. While Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, Ashley is 100 percent horrified by this turn of events. She already needs to hide the real reason that her father moved out, but being connected with “Spewart” could further complicate her place on the social ladder. While they aren’t anything alike personally, Susin Nielsen’s We Are All Made Of Molecules shows that they have at least one thing in common: they – like everyone else – are made of molecules.
When it comes to We Are All Made Of Molecules, there is one thing that needs to be said immediately: I loved this book with all of my heart. While a lot of adults read YA, this book for 10-14 year olds is a true crossover novel, which is sure to garner the attention and affection of tweens, younger teens and adults alike. From the opening page, I was already in love with Stewart. He is a bit of an oddball, but he has a big heart. He’s also one of the most positive, optimistic, and brave characters that I’ve ever had the chance to “meet,” and one of the most real and authentically himself teen boys in YA. Most importantly, he’s not afraid to try new things or protect other vulnerable people, even if it puts him in a helpless situation or if those he’s trying to protect don’t appreciate what he’s doing.
Unlike Stewart, Ashley took a little more time for me to like her, but over the course of the novel, she grew on me. If there’s anything that you need to know about Ashley, it’s this: she’s the epicenter of fashion at her high school and overly dramatic on the surface, but much of the stress that she puts on herself (and everyone else in her family) stems from how insecure she feels. She can’t share what’s really going on in her life with her friends because her position as the most popular girl in school could come crashing down at any time. She may not appreciate what she has – two parents who are both alive and happy, even if they’re divorced because her father came out later in life – but again, it all comes back to her insecurity and lack of self-esteem. To me, that’s the very definition of a “real” teen girl. Not that they’re all insecure, but when they are, it makes sense that they’d act out in that ways that Ashley does.
Finally, Ashley is unintentionally hilarious. It’s rare that malapropism** is done so well and so consistently in a YA novel; We Are All Made Of Molecules and Ashley in particular contributed to my joie de beaver, or joie de vie as most of us know the expression. (Susin Nielsen, if you’re reading this, joie de Bieber may have worked just as well even if it would, undoubtedly, become a little dated in the future. *) In a novel that deals with a number of difficult subjects in a sensitive way, like bullying, homophobia, grief, sexual assault, and the threat of compromising photos in addition to the themes of blended families, teenage drinking, and finding creative ways to help others, Ashley’s voice offers a huge, and much-needed, serving of comedy at key points.
Both Ashley and Stewart grow over the course of the novel, often in touching ways. I’m not going to lie – you might cry while reading this book. (If you’re like me, you might even cry while reading this book in public.) However, it’ll also give you a good belly laugh at exactly the right place. Whether you’re a teen or an adult reader of YA, We Are All Made Of Molecules will blow you away. It’s an inspiring look at what it means to grow up, what it means to have courage, and what it means to be a real friend to someone else. It’s also Susin Nielsen’s writing at her very best. Pick it up today and look for it to be nominated on all the award programs honoring books published this year!
Buy We Are All Made Of Molecules today and benefit from 12% off the regular price!
* I say the future because I think that this book will be read for a long time to come. It’s that good.
** Malapropism, for those who don’t know, is the use of an incorrect word in place, usually, with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance. In case you want to learn more about it, check out the Wikipedia definition of malapropism.