Everything Else in the Universe

272p. Putnam. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399163944.
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Lucy should be having the best summer of her life—her beloved father has just returned from Vietnam, and she is looking forward to spending time with him. But her father is struggling— both with the loss of his arm and what that loss means for his career as a surgeon. Lucy is an autodidact and a fixer, so she goes into research overdrive and wants to spend her summer helping her father recalibrate—but her father needs space and sends Lucy to stay with her extended family instead. There, Lucy embarks on a mission with a new neighbor to return a Purple Heart to a mysterious Vietnam veteran. The novel introduces a nuanced view of the Vietnam War to readers via conversations Lucy has with her peacenik cousin, veterans at the VFW, and her grandfather. Lucy's profound anxiety over her father's mental and physical state is treated gently by Holczer, as Lucy works towards healing and opening herself up to help and love. This is a quiet, tender work of historical fiction about grief, love, and learning to let go.
VERDICT A worthy addition to any middle grade collection, especially for readers who loved Jennifer Holm's Penny from Heaven.

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