Dear Universe

Little, Brown. May 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316436731.
Gr 8 Up–After being kicked out of public school for a violent outburst and sent to anger management, high school senior Chamomile Myles enrolls at Gill School, a place of uniforms and typical teenage anxiety. Cham struggles to balance her two worlds: there’s school, with worries about prom, college applications, the annual service trip to Nicaragua, and the future; and there’s home, where she keeps her father’s terminal illness a secret, even from her best friends Abigail and Hilary, with whom she often feels like a third wheel. Cham’s mother obsessively stress cleans while allowing her father to pretend his problems are from an old motorcycle accident, when clearly he has advanced Parkinson’s. Then Cham meets Brendan, a hospital volunteer and social outcast who effortlessly bridges the gap between her two wildly different worlds. Struggling to pass English and reeling from her brief romance with track star heartthrob Gene Wolf, Cham finds her new friendship with Brendan helpful in many ways. Gonsalves’s witty style, diverse characters, and powerful portrait of mental health will intrigue teen and adult readers alike.
VERDICT Recommended for realistic fiction fans of John Green and Nicola Yoon.

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