Author: Jack Cheng
Publisher: Dial Books
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
Astronomy-obsessed Alex is making recordings on his golden iPod with the plan of rocketing it into space like his hero Carl Sagan did with the golden record. He travels to the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival – alone (apart from his dog, Carl Sagan) – in order to launch the rocket he’s built. Two of the adult friends he makes at the festival take him to Los Vegas to search for his dad. Although Alex believes his dad to be dead, his name and address have recently appeared in ancestry.com.
The road trip continues from there but I can’t tell you much more without spoiling the story. But I will tell you that I have many mixed feelings about this book!
On one hand, I find it ridiculous that 11-year-old Alex would be wandering around the country on his own, meeting adults that don’t seem overly concerned about his lack of supervision. I also found the narrative clunky at times because it’s told in the form of Alex’s recordings where he basically provides a stream of consciousness about what’s going on day to day. The recordings occasionally pick up conversation but they are mostly lines and lines of description.
On the other hand, I could not put the book down, particularly during the second half. I needed to know what the deal was with Alex’s mom and how everything would come together. The pace is fast and despite Alex’s inconsistencies (he describes himself as 13 in responsibility years but he rambles and takes things literally like someone much younger) he is an endearing main character.
One of my sons really liked this book and one of my sons did not. Ironically, it was my own astronomy-obsessed kid that wasn’t so keen. See You in the Cosmos would be a great read aloud for the classroom where you can discuss the issues that arise such as mental illness and messy relationships (and why it’s dangerous for kids to have that much freedom).