[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Random House Canada/Tundra Books. This does not affect my opinion on the book.]
Susin Nielsen was one of my favourite discoveries of 2014, hands down. You may remember the weekend where I binge-read her entire backlist or this post where I got excited about the launch of We Are All Made of Molecules all over again. Or this post, where I proudly called Nielsen’s characters my old friends that could help get me out of a winter funk. I’m honestly sorry (not sorry) if you’re tired of hearing me swoon about this amazing Vancouver-based author. (Semi-unrelated fun fact: Nielsen wrote 16 episodes for Degrassi Junior High – amazing!)
Anyway, what you can expect to take out of this review is that I absolutely loved We Are All Made of Molecules. Here’s why:
We Are All Made of Molecules is narrated by two characters: Stewart, 13, and Ashley, 14. At the beginning of the book, we find out that Stewart’s dad, who is a widower, and Ashley’s mom, who has separated from Ashley’s dad, have fallen in love, and have decided to move in together, creating a “so-called blended family”. The problem is that Stewart, who has always wanted a sister and is enthusiastic about the move, is a little socially clueless, and cannot fathom why his “It Girl” step-sister Ashley keeps ignoring him. Cue hilarity:
“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.” (p5)
It deals with realistic issues.
Beyond trying to forge a civil relationship with Ashley, Stewart has to deal with various issues throughout the book. The death of his mom has obviously and understandably affected him, as has his father’s new relationship. At school, he is a social outcast of sorts who has difficulties blending in and standing up for himself. Ashley is coping with the separation of her parents, and is having a hard time coming to terms with the reason of their divorce. On top of that, they both have to navigate the ever-looming “social ladder” situation at school, which gives Nielsen a lot to work with in terms of creating a satisfying story with problems to overcome.
It brings back characters from previous Susin Nielsen books.
It will warm your heart.
One of the reasons why I admire Nielsen so much is because she’s able to construct realistic character arcs with stakes that will make you feel emotionally invested and interested. This was no different in Molecules, and by the end of the novel my heart felt 3 times bigger.
We Are All Made of Molecules was honestly one of my favourite books from last year. I’m confident that readers will be able to identify at least in one way or another with them, and I hope that young readers will be able to take the lessons they learn to heart. (It’s important to note that this is not an off-putting didactic text, though.) Because I loved the book so much, I’m beyond thrilled that the generous Random House Canada and Tundra Books gave me a signed copy to give away, along with a We Are All Made of Molecules t-shirt!
1. No purchase necessary.
2. Open to residents of Canada only.
3. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again (unless I can tell by their other accounts that they will actually read the book). I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
4. Have fun and good luck!
Are you a fan of Susin Nielsen?