Grace Carter's mother the celebrity news anchor GG Carter is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace an aspiring astrophysicist is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits. Then one day GG is just ... gone. Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace's family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers. While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG's disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school's golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother's long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted ... or did she leave? And if she left, why? Author Ria Voros (Nobody's Dog, The Opposite of Geek) reaches for the stars here, deftly combining mystery with a passion for science and themes of mother-daughter bonds, celebrity, first love and best friendship. Facts about astronomy and astrophysics are seamlessly woven into the story and are supplemented by an interview with real-life astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker, making this the perfect book for readers who love STEM. And even readers who don't have stars in their eyes will love this smart, suspenseful, relatable and literary novel.
|Publisher:||Kids Can Press, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.80(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Ria Voros is a middle grade and YA author, teacher, presenter and obsessive reader. She loves her family, the planet and dessert, most often in that order, and can be found eating ice cream on the beach with her husband and two kids in Victoria, BC, Canada.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What appears to be a mother simply abandoning her daughter, turns into something more in this cleverly written story of a teen and her mother at odds, and her father stuck in the middle. While most just think it is ok to write it off as abandonment, Grace is not ready to abandon her mother just because she hasn't been there for her, growing up. She suspects that there is more going on and so uses sleuthing to figure out what really happened. Good book. And the astronomy is real and interesting as well. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
I loved this story! It had suspenseful elements, but it had a heartwarming ending. The first half of the story was about the mystery of Grace’s missing mother. There were so many questions as to why she left or if she was taken. I enjoyed this mystery, because I couldn’t guess what would happen next. Even when that mystery was solved, there was still a lot more to the story. Science was a major theme in this book. Grace is interested in astrophysics, and she has even been mentioned in an article as the founder of an exoplanet. There is an interview with the astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker at the end of the book, and she is featured as a character in the novel too. This is great representation for young adults who are interested in pursuing a career in science. I also liked that this story was about more than just Grace’s missing mother. This story explored the mother/daughter relationship between Grace and her mother, as well as her mother and grandmother. I think this was actually the main point of the story. Grace had to look for a way to find her mother, both literally and figuratively. This is a great new story! Thank you KCP Loft for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A big theme in The Center of the Universe is the parts of people that we do not know, and it is explored in the mother-daughter relationship of GG and Grace. Grace's mother is a broadcast journalist and her work frequently has her away from her kids' lives, something that Grace resents. With her mother and grandmother both involved in being on-screen and their being public, Grace feels a disconnect with them with the astrophysicist aspirations and her need for privacy. When GG goes missing and the search for her continues beyond weeks, Grace slowly starts to learn about another side of her mother. Drawing on complicated relationships daughters have with their mothers, the book shows through Grace how children often see their parents only in a singular role. Here, Grace only sees her mother as that, and resents her for not adequately fulfilling her role. She doesn't realize her mother is also a person, someone who has things that they want, someone who is caught in a personal crisis about where their life is going. From a teenager's point of view, it seems natural that she wants to be close to her mother, but from an adult's point of view, you can see that she is also rejecting the efforts being made to bridge that gap (to the point that it sometimes comes across as bratty). I also feel this is a book that will be read very differently based on the reader's own personal views and stage in life. The book is being shelved as mystery on here, and yes, it is a mystery in the first half, as Grace and the police are trying to put the pieces together to find out what happened with GG's disappearance, but it is not a 'thriller' kind of mystery; it isn't the main attraction as with actual mystery novels. Instead, it is a slow building of Grace's new worldview, where she realizes there are many sides to people, including her mother, and her friends' parents. She finds a bond with Mylo, her friend and crush, who understands what it is like to be waiting for someone's safe return, and to have a complicated relationship with one's mother, and is her rock during this time. Grace and her best friend Iris also have a strong bond, but she feels Iris' happy family life means she has no base to understand her own struggles. Finally, the book does a good enough job of connecting Grace's passion to her understanding of the world and of relationships. It is a good exploration of strained familial relationships, discusses abuse (and its effects on a person's psyche) and also touches upon going with your passions in life at the cost of your future.
This was a really thrilling contemporary novel. The family dynamic was really interesting and the series of characters presented by Voros was done really well. The relationships presented was explored in a really interesting way and Grace was a sympathetic and well rounded character who reads a believable teen. The story did not focus on one element too much and this created a good balance and there were no elements that seemed underdeveloped. One area I would have like to have seen developed further was what would happen after the book ends and whether Grace achieves her ultimate dream.
"The Center of the Universe" by Ria Voros can be summarised as a book about a seventeen-year-old geeky girl with some OCD and her tv personality mother but that would be a huge disservice. I did not expect to find characters so well developed, people that you could very well meet on your everyday lives, with problems that you and your relatives face every day since fights with your parents, dealing with relatives or navigating school life and crushes. With the exception of the first chapter, this is a book that takes it time and we can only be happy for it. Throughout the first part of the book, the chapters are not in chronological order which makes it even more interesting by divulging a few details while making us come up with a lot more questions that only make us read more furiously in order to uncover the mystery. Because Grace is a keen astronomer, whenever the characters found themselves discussing it, the details were so well researched that I felt part of the conversation too, almost like I was in the same universe as them I also liked the way Grace's relationship with her father was portrayed, with him being a kind mean, interested in his daughter's lives that talked to her without ignoring her intelligence and input. In YA books, romantic entanglements normally take a big part of the book and I was happy that this did not happen here, with Grace's romantic relationship taking her time, without having the need to make a hero out of the boy but instead giving him a personality and a reason to be in the book other than kissing the main character. Lastly, I was just so happy that 1. there is a Portuguese character in the book and 2. Dr Elizabeth Tasker, someone Grace looks up to in the book, is a real person! Ria Voros created an amazing story.