Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Jack Cheng
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Alex is planning to create a rocket that will go all the way to space, so he makes recordings on his iPod about what life is like on Earth to send to space in the rocket. Alex first plans to go on a quick vacation to meet with other rocket enthusiasts, but then he meets people who are on their own journeys of self-discovery, and he prolongs his trip. Soon, Alex finds himself in Las Vegas to look for the father he always thought was dead and then in Los Angeles to surprise his older brother. But by the time it’s time for Alex to return home, his view of the world isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Suddenly, Alex has all these new supporters in his life, friends he never knew he needed, and they help him to see that maybe the way he’s been living isn’t as wonderful as he always said it was.
The narration of See You in the Cosmos is done entirely through transcripts of Alex’s recordings on his iPod, though sometimes other characters make recordings as well. As a result, the reader is very present in the story and can feel as though they are experiencing the events as they are happening. There is some adult content in the book, but as that content is viewed through the lens of an eleven-year-old, it isn’t discussed explicitly. An adult reader may pick up on some of the subtleties that are happening, but since Alex himself is not completely aware of the adult world, a younger reader wouldn’t be either. Alex’s trip is, realistically, a very dangerous one, but Alex is somehow able to consistently stay out of harm’s way, even in vulnerable situations. Consequently, it is important that readers understand that not all adults will be as kind and accommodating as the adults Alex encounters and that traveling alone with adult strangers is not advised, as secure as Alex’s trip may seem.