“Clues to the universe” Christina Li

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published January 12, 2021. Quill Tree Books (HarperCollins).

Twelve-year-old Ro’s father was killed by a drunk driver, while Benji’s father left him behind when he was just 4 years old.

Ro inherited a love of all things science from her father, while Benji credited his artistic skill to his dad. Ro is sure if she builds a rocket for the school’s science fair that she’ll grow up to build one that will go into space with memories of her father. The year before, in 6th grade, Benji discovered his dad is a famous comic book artist. Though he spent months looking for him online with his former best friend, he kept coming up empty handed.

Ro and Benji partner up in science class, but soon become partners in helping each other reach their goals. Ro is fiercely set on making sure her rocket performs perfectly and that Benji gets to finally meet his dad. For his part, Benji is not as firmly set on the path of reunification Ro has set for him. Cautious by nature, her impulsivity draws him even more into his shell until something happens that causes them to reflect on what they’ve been teaching each other, and leave them wondering whether or not those lessons are worth holding onto.

Told in alternating voices love, loss, forgiveness and friendship are all explored in this novel of two middle school friends who uniquely deal with the obstacles life has thrown them.

Recommended for ages 11-14.

I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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