Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
*" This savvy, insightful take on the modern family makes for nearly nonstop laughs." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred<br> <br> Stewart, 13: Socially clueless genius.<br> Ashley, 14: Popular with everyone but her teachers<br> <br> Ashley's and Stewart's worlds 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 percent happy about it--he's always wanted a sister. But Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; "Spewart" could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.<br> <br> They're complete opposites, but they have one thing in common: they--like everyone else--are made of molecules.<br> <br> In this hilarious and deeply moving story, award-winning author Susin Nielsen has created two narrators who will steal your heart and make you laugh out loud.<br> <br> Praise <br> NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People<br> Nominated for the George Peach Book Award for Teen Readers<br> Nominated to the Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Award<br> Texas Lone Star Reading List<br> <br> <br> "A laugh-out-loud story of two teens learning to adjust to unusual family life that neither expected...Everyone from teenagers to adults will enjoy this story of ups and downs, laughter and tears, and the healing power of love."-- VOYA <br> <br> *"Drama, humour, poignancy, and suspense are rarely found in such perfect proportions..some truly funny writing...stellar, top notch stuff." --Quill & Quire, Starred<br> <br> What Other Authors Are Saying <br> "Susin Nielsen is one of the best writers working today. In We Are All Made of Molecules, her astonishing ability to combine insight, tenderness, poignancy, and uproarious humor is in full flower. Susin Nielsen is a genius, and kids and adults alike will adore this book." --Susan Juby, author of The Truth Commission <br> <br> "What a skilled, gifted writer Susin is!...There's so much to love about this story . . . but what grabbed me the most is the humor." --Christopher Paul Curtis, Newbery Medal-winning author of Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
Thirteen-year-old brilliant but socially-challenged Stewart and mean-girl Ashley must find common ground when, two years after Stewart's mother died, his father moves in with his new girlfriend--Ashley's mother, whose gay ex-husband lives in their guest house.
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Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">STEWART I have always wanted a sister. A brother, not so much. I like symmetry, and I always felt that a sister would create the perfect quadrangle or "family square," with the X chromosomes forming two sides and the Ys forming the rest. When I bugged my parents, they would say, "Stewart, we already have the perfect child! How could we do any better than you?" It was hard to argue with their logic. Then one day, when I had just turned ten, I overheard a private conversation between them. I was in my room building my birthday present, an enormous Lego spaceship, without using instructions, because I have very good spatial abilities. My mom and dad were downstairs, but I could hear their voices clearly through the heating vent. "Leonard," I heard my mom say, "Stewart might finally get his wish." I put down my Lego pieces and moved closer to the vent. "I haven't had my period in two months. I'm chubbing up around the middle. I'm tired all the time. . . ." "You think you're pregnant?" I heard my dad say. "I do." I couldn't help myself. "FINALLY!" I yelled through the vent. "BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER!" The next day, Mom made an appointment with her doctor. But it wasn't a baby growing inside her. It was cancer. It had started in her ovaries, and by the time they caught it, it had spread. She died a year and three months later. Now I'm thirteen, and I still miss her like crazy, because she was a quality human being. When I was seven, my dad and I bought her a mug for her birthday that read world's best mom, and I actually believed there was only one mug like it on the planet, and that it had been made just for her. I don't like to talk a lot about the year she was sick. Or the year after she died. My dad is also quality and he did his best, and I like to think that I am quality and so I did my best, too. But it was really hard because we were missing one-third of our family. We had been like an equilateral triangle. Mom was the base that held up the whole structure. When we lost her, the other two sides just collapsed in on each other. We were very, very sad. My therapist, Dr. Elizabeth Moscovich, told me early on in our sessions that a part of us will always be sad, and that we will have to learn to live with it. At first I thought she wasn't a very good therapist, because if she was good she should be able to cure me. But after a while I realized that the opposite was true: she's an excellent therapist, because she tells it like it is. Dr. Elizabeth Moscovich also says that just because you feel sad sometimes, it doesn't mean you can't also be happy, which at first might sound like a serious contradiction. But it's true. For instance, I can still be happy when Dad and I see a ball game at Nat Bailey Stadium. I can still be happy when I am kicking my best friend Alistair's butt at Stratego. And when Dad and I adopted Schrödinger the cat from the SPCA last year, I wasn't just happy; I was over the moon. Of course, Schrödinger's not even close to a replacement for my mom. He can't have good conversations; he can't cook my favorite from-scratch chicken fingers; he can't give me back tickles or kiss my forehead at night. But he needs me, and I need him. He needs me to feed him and cuddle him and scoop his poops. I need him to talk to, even though he never talks back. And I need him to sleep by my head at night, because then I don't feel alone. So when Dad started to date Caroline Anderson a year after Mom died, I mostly understood. Caroline is Dad's Schrödinger. He needs her and she needs him. It doesn't mean he isn't still sad sometimes, because he is. But it means he can put the sad on hold for bigger periods of time, and this is a good thing. For a long time he was Sad Dad twenty-four-seven, and I was Sad Stewart twenty-four-seven, and together we were Sad Squared, and it was just a big black hole of sadness. Caroline and my dad have worked together in the newsroom for almost ten years. They'd always got along, but it wasn't until they were both single that they started to notice each other in that way. Caroline's husband left around the time my mom died. She is a divorcée. I'd met her a few times when Mom was still alive, at Dad's work parties. And of course I see her on TV all the time. I like her, and she likes me. Even better, she liked my mom, and I know the feeling was mutual. But most important of all, she loves my dad. I can see it in the way she looks at him all google-eyed, and he looks at her the same way. Sometimes it makes my stomach hurt when I think about my mom, and how, if things had been different, she would be getting Dad's google-eyes, but as Dr. Elizabeth Moscovich has pointed out, I can't live in the past. Caroline makes my dad happy, and this is a good thing. Best of all, she has a daughter. Her name is Ashley, and she is one year older than me. I have only met Ashley a few times. She is very pretty, but I think she is also possibly hard of hearing, because when I try to talk to her, she either walks away or turns up the volume on the TV really loud. Maybe she's just shy. And now we are moving in with them. Dad and Caroline broke the news last month. Dad and I and Schrödinger are leaving our house in North Vancouver and moving into Caroline and Ashley's house in Vancouver, on Twenty-Second between Cambie and Main. They told Ashley and me separately, so I don't know her reaction, but I am 89.9 percent happy with the news. "Eighty-nine point nine?" Dr. Elizabeth Moscovich asked me at our final session last week. "What about the other ten point one percent?" I confessed to her that that part is made up of less positive emotions. We made a list, and on the list were words like anxiety and guilt. Dr. Elizabeth Moscovich told me this was perfectly normal. After all, we're leaving the house I spent my entire life in, the one Mom and Dad bought together a year before I was born. Now Dad has sold the house to a young couple with a baby, which means there is no turning back. We're bringing a lot of stuff with us, but we can't bring the mosaic stepping-stones my mom made that line the path in the backyard, or the flowers she planted, or her molecules, which I know still float through the air, because why else can I feel her presence all the time? It is what less scientifically minded people would call a "vibe," and our house, even this long after her death, is still full to bursting with Mom's vibe. I worry a little bit about that. Where will her vibe go when we are gone? Will it find its way to our new home, like those animals that walked hundreds of miles to find their owners in The Incredible Journey? Or will it get lost on the way? And also I am anxious because I don't know how Ashley feels about this merger of our family and hers. I don't expect her to be 89.9 percent excited. I just hope she's at least 65 percent excited. I can work with 65 percent. This is not how I wanted my wish to come true. This is not how I would have chosen to become a quadrangle. I would far, far rather still be a triangle if it meant that my mom was alive. But since that is a scientific impossibility, I am trying to look on the bright side. I have always wanted a sister. And I'm about to get one. Excerpted from We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In this honest and funny portrayal of the difficult transitions that can come with blending families, 13-year-old Stewart is on board when his father decides they are moving in with his girlfriend, Caroline, and her daughter, Ashley. Socially awkward and cerebral, Stewart knows that it's time to move on after his mother's death and is excited to be gaining a sister. Fourteen-year-old Ashley feels otherwise ("My family is fubar" is her introduction to readers). Alternating between the teens' perspectives, Nielsen (The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen) humorously conveys Stewart's attempts to befriend Ashley, whose anger is actually about her father, who recently announced that he's gay and moved into the cottage in their yard. Stewart's analytical perspective and Ashley's sarcastic narration are as different as they are entertaining, though Nielsen perhaps has a bit too much fun at the expense of Ashley, who is prone to malapropisms ("Claudia hit the snail on the head") and thinks Idi Amin is one of her mother's colleagues. But both characters grow tremendously as they grapple with loss, navigate their differences, and find common ground. Ages 12-up. Agent: Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7-10-Thirteen-year-old Stewart and 14-year-old Ashley could not be more different. Stewart is a quirky, gifted intellectual who is coping with the loss of his mother, while Ashley is a popular fashionista still reeling from her parents' divorce-brought about by her father's announcement that he is gay. When a serious relationship develops between Stewart's father and Ashley's mother, the two teens find themselves living under the same roof. By turns humorous and heartbreaking, the story is told in alternating chapters narrated by both protagonists. In comparison to Stewart, Ashley is somewhat underdeveloped, but the contrast between the two characters makes for a compelling read, particularly as they begin to challenge and influence each other. Their overlapping journeys will leave readers with much to think about, as Nielsen unflinchingly tackles issues such as bullying, bigotry, and tolerance; the true nature of friendship; and what it means to be a family. The book will appeal to fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (Random, 2012) and Jo Knowles's See You at Harry's (Candlewick, 2012). VERDICT This work of realistic fiction should find a place in most libraries serving teens.-Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Abington School District, PA (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
When 13-year-old Stewart's father moves in with Ashley's mother, there are naturally some hurdles to be faced. However, Stewart seems to be much more excited at the prospect of having a sister than Ashley is about the new freakazoid in her life. Stewart has trouble adapting to his new school, a real change from his private academy for gifted learners. Finding friends is tough, but even tougher are the bullies, especially the guys in Stewart's gym class who seem determined to embarrass him. Stewart and Ashley narrate their stories in alternating chapters, a technique that highlights the very different perspective each brings to the story. For example, while Ashley is absolutely dazzled by Jared, Stewart knows that Jared's interest extends only to conquest. Ashley, meanwhile, tends to see only how the actions of others are an inconvenience for her. Sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual development all play a role. Nielsen employs humor to ease tension, and despite the heavy topics, Ashley's malapropisms will cause some grins.--Lesesne, Teri Copyright 2015 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Snotty rich girl Ashley isn't happy that nerdy Stewart and his dad (who's dating her mom) are moving in. Life briefly looks up for Ashley when she starts dating popular Jared, but Stewart discovers she might need to be saved from Jared, an aggressive and homophobic bully. The well-drawn characters learn important skills and lessons in this candid look at a modern family. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A nerdy boy and a queen-bee girl become stepbrother and -sister in this comedy/drama. Hilarity ensues when 13-year-old Stewart learns that he and his dad are moving in with Caroline and her 14-year-old daughter, Ashley. Stewart copes well enough, thanks to his outstanding intelligence, precocious emotional maturity, math skills, and the calm outlook with which he assesses his successes and failures. He's excited to have a sister. Ashley, on the other hand, couldn't care less about school and wants nothing to do with her new almost-stepbrotherwho, to her mortification, has been bumped up a year and is now in her class. She's also terrified that people will learn her estranged dad is gay. Ashley scores big when she lands the handsome Jared as a boyfriend, but Stewart knows Jared is a bully because he's trapped in physical education class with him. The psychodrama is narrated by the two kids in alternating chapters, leavened with constant, wry humor that should keep readers chuckling even as the story grapples with serious emotional issues. Stewart comes across as absolutely adorable. He knows he's a complete geek with imperfect social skills. His disarming honesty about his intelligence and especially about his weaknesses holds the entire book together, allowing readers to take self-absorbed Ashley with a grain of salt as she goes through what her mother terms the "demon seed" stage. This savvy, insightful take on the modern family makes for nearly nonstop laughs. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.