Wednesday 17 June 2015

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

There are two sides to every story

Stewart is geeky, gifted but socially clueless. His mom has died and he misses her every day.

Ashley is popular, cool but her grades stink. Her dad has come out and moved out – but not far enough.Their worlds are about to collide: Stewart and his dad are moving in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it even as he struggles to fit in at his new school. But Ashley is 110% horrified and can’t quite get used to her totally awkward home. And things are about to get a whole lot more mixed up when they attract the wrong kind of attention. . .

When Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mum, things get tense. No one is expecting this to be easy but Ashley is horrified by the stuff that the boys bring into their lives. Plus her newly-out gay dad is still living within spitting distance which is not only weird but awkward and embarrassing as Ashley hasn't told anyone the truth. 

Stewart, 13 year old, Gifted at Maths but stumped at social interactions. Ashley is his new almost-step-sister, 14 years old, fashion savvy but hurt after the disruption to her family. Both characters were difficult to like in weird ways. Stewart was adorable but socially impaired so I was often cringing for him, whereas Ashley was pretty bitchy but I could understand her pain. With dual perspective, we see both sides of the argument and this made things a lot clearer, especially with Stewart's weirdness.

Then there's school. Stewart has moved to Ashley's school and is even in her year group, which means he has to deal with the big kids. Like Jared. Scary to some, a dream come true to others. Stewart uses Ashley is keep Jared off his back in gym, but then Jared isn't what he makes out to be. Basically, he was a huge douche. Homophobic, cruel, a bully, a bit pervy, it takes a while for anyone to see that side of him because he is very good at hiding it. But when things go wrong, Ashley gets hurt by Jared's douche-y side and Steward it there to protect her. 

They go through a surprising amount of crap in under a year but both kids come to realise that it's nice to have another ally and they come to an understanding. I really liked their progression, they both had to make compromises, some they didn't think of, but by the end, Stewart and Ashley actually sort of like each other. A really sweet and quick read about new siblings and friendship and the perils of teenage life. 

Published 30th April 2015 by Anderson.

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