Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Simon & Schuster books for Young Readers
Thank you Edelweiss for the chance to review this book.
Wow. This book was weird and fun, and surprising.
This story is set is the 70’s in a town called Slater, Kansas and involves one girl and one boy whose lives could not be more different. Hey, let’s throw in some mysterious phenomena and here we have The Great Unknowable End.
Enter Stella. She lost her mother to suicide and works two jobs, one at an outdoor movie theater and another at a hair salon. She puts her dreams of becoming a space engineer to the backburner to care for her father and little sister when her older brother suddenly leaves for a commune called The Red Sun without a word two years prior. Her family has distanced themselves from a town who associates evil with The Red Sun.
They’re loners, but they’re loners together.
Enter Galliard. He was born at The Red Sun and has little knowledge of the Outside. When he loses a spot as the resident artist within the commune, he seeks answers beyond the commune’s gates. But will the world outside accept his Tourette Syndrome without judgment as The Red Sun?
Strange things begin to happen in Slater. From red rain to eyeless snakes. The town puts the blame on the Red Sun. The Red Sun returns blame to the Outside. Meanwhile, Stella and Galliard meet and strike up an unlikely friendship. In the backdrop of all of these strange happenings, there’s a girl with a weird face and a boy with tics who find each other amongst their secrets and pain.
What this book reminded me of: The Twilight Zone, Donnie Darko, and Stranger Things.
I absolutely loved this book. I loved it because the two main characters were so flawed and so real that I couldn’t stop reading to see what would happen to them. I love magical realism, and I love it more when there’s no explanation for it. For some reason, that mystery is better for me. But you can speculate, and I am sure there might have been something I missed that wrapped it all up together.
What drew me into requesting this book was the magical realism aspect. What I got was the stories of two teenagers whose lives weaved with each other with that desire to be found and understood. It’s about devotion to family, no matter blood-related or not or how blindly it is. There’s a reminder in there about no matter what happens in life, be it a loss or the world coming to an end, that there are opportunities to follow your heart and to never give up on your dreams.
This is the type of book that sticks in your brain long after you’ve read it. When I finish a book, I usually move on quickly, but this one has lingered. I’ve never read a character with Tourette’s, and I’m grateful for the education about the disorder. And a girl who is in love with the stars? GIVE IT TO ME.
In closing, add this to your reading list, preorders, whatever. I am certainly going to add it to my shelves.