Today, I'll be talking about Wendy Mass's new middle grade novel, Every Soul a Star which was published last month. This is Wendy's fifth novel with us; her previous books were A Mango Shaped Space, Leap Day, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall. Wendy has gone back and forth between writing middle grade and young adult for a while, but has decided that middle grade is the age group she's most passionate about writing for, and I just love what she's doing. Jeremy Fink is one of my all-time favorite books ever! And of her previous books, Every Soul a Star is probably the most similar in the sense that it also has a strong message, but told in a fun way.
Every Soul a Star is about three very different kids, Ally, Bree, and Jack, whose lives come together at the isolated Moon Shadow campground to witness a total eclipse of the sun. What I love about Wendy is that she tries something new with each book she writes. In this book, she’s written it from three different points of view in first person, and she’s succeeded in making each kid’s voice distinct--not an easy task! Ally has lived at the Moon Shadow campground for almost her whole life and is a bit of a brain, passionate about nature and space, and a bit sheltered and naive. Bree is beautiful, popular, wants to be a model when she grows up. Jack is a bit overweight, a loner, and loves drawing and reading science fiction. The book alternates between these three perspectives with snappy dialogue and beautiful descriptions.
The climax of the book is the description of the eclipse from the three different viewpoints, which I must say is absolutely breathtaking each time, and for the three kids is a life-changing experience. Another thing I love about Wendy is that she’s very thoughtful about the message in each book she writes, and she has such a talent for creating a wholly satisfying read that will make kids think, and yet is not too heavy-handed or didactic. Every Soul a Star will make readers look beyond their own lives and try to see where they fit in the universe.
I just love the cover design (by Alison Impey). The jacket has uses pearlescent ink which gives it a lovely sheen:
Confirming her mastery of the middle-grade novel, Mass (Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life) combines astronomy and storytelling for a well-balanced look at friendships and the role they play in shaping identity.
Readers who like quietly self-reflective novels like Lynne Rae Perkins's Criss Cross or Jerry Spinelli's "Stargirl" books will also enjoy this compelling and thought-provoking story.
Remarkably, Reibstein and Young capture the essence of all of this with clarity, elegance and a kind of indirection that seems intrinsic to the subject... If wabi sabi is “a feeling, rather than an idea,” this outcome feels just right.