We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

11:44 AM

Title: We Are All Made of Molecules
Author: Susin Nielsen
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Tundra Books
Pages: 256
Source: Copy provided by publisher

Overall: 4 Stars

Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but "ungifted" socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed "It" girl of grade nine, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. "The Brady Bunch" it isn't. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, but Ashley is 110% horrified. She already has to hide the truth behind her parents' divorce; "Spewart" could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they--like the rest of us--are all made of molecules.

Written in alternating voices, Susin Nielsen deftly explores family tragedy and family ties; sibling rivalry and union; and adolescent confusion and revelation. 

My Thoughts:  
Ever since her parent's amicable divorce, Ashley can't stop feeling hurt and angry. Their family was always perfect in her eyes, so it devastates her that their marriage is now over. Nobody at school knows the true reason behind their divorce, and Ashley wants to keep it that way. Stewart is feeling a much different kind of hurt. His mother passed away over a year ago and he still very much misses her. When Stewart and his father move in with Ashley and his mother, he takes everything in stride and hopes to have a happy family again.

When you first meet Ashley, she seems like a stereotypical airhead. She completely believes the world revolves around her, and I just rolled my eyes at her dramatic attitude. She's so superficial and self-centered that you can't really take her seriously, but that's exactly the point of her character. She has the most potential for personal growth if only she could learn to look beyond appearances.

Stewart is the BEST. He's a brilliant boy, academically-speaking, but he doesn't always understand how to socialize with other teens at his school. Eternally optimistic and positive, it breaks your heart to see Stewart quietly struggling to cope with his mother's death as he puts on a bright smile in front of everyone else.

Stewart is so honest, kind, and openly accepting that it's difficult to warm up to immature Ashley in comparison, but the alternating perspectives really helped to understand their opposing personalities. Stewart and Ashley couldn't be any more different, but they may just need each other more than they realize. The bonds of family are tested and rearranged as they learn to live together and find a sense of balance.

Charming and funny, yet still poignant and heartfelt, We Are All Made of Molecules is written in Susin Nielsen's signature style that I've come to recognize as uniquely her own. It's a coming-of-age story that will appeal to readers of all ages, exploring and confronting difficult subjects in a candid manner that encourages discussion of its themes. Susin Nielsen's We Are All Made of Molecules will hit you in the feels.

Thanks so much to Penguin Random House Canada for providing this review copy!

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