"Tender and illuminating. A beautiful debut." --Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me
A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.
Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger--it's the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.
While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can't express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova's new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she's counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she'll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, "No matter what, I'll be there. I promise."
Autistic astronomy lover Nova Vezina is 12 years old in January 1986, and although she rarely speaks, she understands much more than people give her credit for. Her older sister, Bridget, is the only person who really sees her, but when Bridget runs away, Nova is placed in yet another foster home, this time alone. To cope, she counts down the 10 days to the Challenger shuttle launch, which Bridget promised to watch with her. In the meantime, her new foster family works hard not only to understand and support Nova, but also to encourage her teachers and social worker to see her in a new light. Readers familiar with the Challenger's fate will recognize the approaching tragedy, but the love of Nova's new family envelops her when its harsh reality hits. Debut author Panteleakos develops a believable, authentic point of view through Nova's letters to her sister (called "scribbles" by her teacher), which distill her own memories, sensitivities ("pencils scratch papers, which bothers my ears"), and interests alongside 1980s attitudes about autism. A sensitively told story that may help young readers stretch their compassion and empathy. Ages 8 12.
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