Title: We Are All Made of Molecules
Author: Susin Nielsen
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: January 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, 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. They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules.
We Are All Made of Molecules is a sweet and touching story of family, loss, friendship, and coming together. Stewart’s mom passed a way not quite two years ago and now his dad is in a serious relationship. The two of them are moving in with his dad’s girlfriend and her daughter, Ashley. Ashley’s parents relationship ended recently when her dad came out. She’s having a hard time accepting this change.
I had a really hard time with Ashley as she’s not a character that I often sympathize with or understand. She’s mean and selfish and has few redeemable qualities. She faces some tough things that she shouldn’t ever have to deal with and she does display some good character growth in the end, but it’s hard to like her at all along the way. On the other hand, her new nearly step-brother is quirky and strange, but he’s genuine and isn’t afraid to be himself. He’s open, honest, and in his words, “cannot tell a lie.” The two together create a great contrast. The reader knows that each can learn so much from the other, if only they can work to get to that point. Time, and a little bit of understanding, leads these characters to understand one another better and to empathize with each other more.
This novel is a really great portrayal of acceptance of open-mindedness. It’s very true in it’s portrayal of cliques in schools and the bullying that occurs. The characters are not super extraordinary, but they’re very much real. They face struggles and are trying to make their way in the shark tank that is high school. I love the way that characters struggle to take a stand, but are able to triumph in the end, even if they fail here and there along the way. these characters are just looking to find a place for themselves where they are comfortable and safe.
It is a very sweet novel with characters that adapt and grow as the story moves along. Has anyone else read this book? What did you think?