I have been a huge fan of Wendy Mass since I first read A Mango-Shaped Space a few years ago. When I saw that Mass’ newest middle grade novel was nominated for a Cybil, I was looking forward to reading it. While November is always a hectic month as a teacher (convention, report cards, Thanksgiving, conferences, Election Day, and too many days off), I made sure that Cybil reading didn’t fall by the wayside. Boy am I glad I picked this one up!
Every Soul A Star is about three very different tweens. Ally, Bree, and Jack are brought together by one of nature’s most phenomenal acts- a total solar eclipse. RIght off the bat, I love that Mass has written this story from three different points of view in first person. More importantly, she succeeded in making each kid’s voice distinct and realistic – a tall order for any author!
The three main characters are very different but realistic. I felt like I knew all three, like that could be in my class. Ally has lived at the Moon Shadow campground for almost her whole life and is a science geek (and proud of it!). She is passionate about nature and space, but her life at Moon Shadow is sheltered and she is naive in the ways of the tween world. Bree is beautiful, popular, and wants to be a model when she grows up. She reminded me a bit of the main characters in the oh-so-popular The Clique novels. Jack is a bit overweight, a loner, and loves drawing and reading science fiction, when he isn’t practicing lucid dreaming as an escape from his life. The book alternates between these three points-of-view. I loved having the chance to view a gorgeous location like the Moon Shadow through three completely different sets of eyes, each with their own bias and perspective. And Mass’ descriptions of the campground and the eclipse are stunning and breathtaking.
This is a book that will make kids think, but without being preachy or heavy-handed. I think every kid will identify in some way with one of the three main characters and will enjoy the transformation each one goes through. And if anyone can read this book without becoming fascinated by solar eclipses, I would love to meet them! What a fascinating topic that very few tweens ever have a chance to think about and even fewer get to experience! I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Mass has turned more than a few reluctant citizen scientists into amateur astronomers!
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite books of the year. I can’t wait to booktalk this and see how my kids react. Mass has crafted a fascinating story that will resonate with tweens.