All right! Here we go!
Quick warning: I’ll try to keep my book reviews spoiler free. You may come across minor spoilers if you want to read this book!
See You in the Cosmos has been on my book list since it came out last year. I wish I read it sooner but sadly, books are expensive.
I gotta say, sometimes you just have to forget about that “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” talk around books. I mean have you seen this cover? It’s beautiful! The cover is definitely something that caught my attention because it’s simple down to the silhouette and colors, covered in stars, and there’s a dog.
So here’s the premise: Eleven-year old Alex Petroski wants to launch his own golden iPod filled with recordings of life on Earth into space with a rocket he built himself.
Now that pulled me in instantly. When I was a kid I was obsessed with many things about our world and the worlds beyond our little solar system. I wanted to be an astronomer (or a marine biologist) but math has never really been my strongest skill. But I still placed this book at the top of my list. When I finally got my hands on it (big shout out to libraries around the world), I was drawn into Alex’s life in the first “recording”.
“Recording? What are you talking about?!”
Yup, you read that correctly. Instead of CHAPTERS, Jack Cheng uses RECORDINGS, along with time stamps to give us an idea of how long they were. This is similar to an epistolary novel in a way (which are my weakness. Show me any kind of epistolary novel and I will drop everything to read it). His voice is so unique and enjoyable, with a touch of childlike innocence.
Alex starts his first recording with a series of questions:
Who are you?
What do you look like?
Do you have one head or two?
And that gave me an idea: What if I pretend to be this alien Alex is creating these recordings for? Which isn’t hard to do as a twenty-two year old woman reading a book about an eleven-year old boy. So I listened to Alex’s story as he described his home, his family, and his dog, Carl Sagan, named after the astronomer. He tells us about SHARF, Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival, where he plans to take a train from Colorado to New Mexico, spurring an even bigger road trip with adults from the internet on a quest to find answers.
Ok, ok, that sounds a bit sketchy, but it turns out to be extremely sweet, with a few bumps along the way. Although I’m not too fond of adults being main characters in children’s books, I gotta say that this was handled beautifully. We have Steve and Zen, who help out Alex with his camping gear as well as giving him a ride to Nevada to find out information about his dad.
Alex finds his half-sister Terra, rather than his dad. At first, she doesn’t want Alex to call her “sister”, so in his recordings, Alex starts to refer to her as “My Terra” and shows her his golden iPod. And that’s when the story really kicks off. Together they start to unravel the mystery of their family, all while revealing how human we all can be, filled with complex emotions and hopes that even we can’t understand sometimes.
See You in the Cosmos really gets down to the beautiful side of humanity. Alex shows us that in his recordings with his unconditional love for his family, and his found family in Zen and Steve. And that’s something he reminded me of: with all the worst things in the world, we are capable of love and hope to everyone. Especially aliens who may be listening.
Definitely check this book out. It’s stellar!