See You in the Cosmos
by Jack Cheng
Dial Books, 2017. Fiction. 320 p.
An 11 year old boy, Alex, lives with his mother in Colorado. His
mother has "quiet" days when she doesn't feel well enough to leave the
house, and Alex takes responsibility for doing the cooking and shopping
for both of them. Alex is in love with the idea of rockets and space
travel, and he saves money from his job helping at a gas station to buy a
train ticket to New Mexico so he can attend an amateur rocket launch. At the launch he makes
friends with two college guys, who, when they discover he has traveled
alone, take him under their wing. After the launch, Alex receives
word that his father might be living in Las Vegas. Alex and his new friends start a wild road trip in search of answers about
This is an interesting book. It is
written as a series of recordings that Alex makes on his "golden I-Pod"
(a reference to the golden record sent into space by Carl Segan in the 1970's). Anything that might have
been picked up in a live recording is written into the narrative. The result feels raw, unfiltered, and achingly realistic. The thing that saves
that book from being too "raw" is that Alex, although he has been
terribly neglected by a non-functional family, has a really buoyant and
likeable personality. This is a great read, and an outstanding recorded book.