See You in the Cosmos
by Jack Cheng
started in March 2017
I received an e-ARC from Penguin Random House UK Children’s through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!
I feel absolutely horrible about deciding not to finish See You in the Cosmos only 15 percent in. But I have to be honest: the only reason why I would finish this, is because it’s an advanced reader copy.
I requested this book because of its beautiful cover and because the synopsis sounds very cute. But when I started See You in the Cosmos, I immediately realised this wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. Though it was a page-turner, I had actually no desire to actually read it.
Firstly, I couldn’t connect with the writing style. This is a middle grade novel, so it might be entirely my fault I wasn’t enjoying it. Personally, I don’t like it when authors try to sound like children. Take this excerpt, for example:
“He got in line so I got in line too, and when we got up to the ticket guy, the ticket guy looked at him and he looked at me and he asked the older kid, Is he with you? And the kid said, Yeah, he’s my stepbrother. He said, I leave to go to the bathroom for one minute and Alex tries to ditch me at the station, some brother, huh? The ticket guy looked at me and asked me, Is he your brother?”
I generally don’t care much about the writing style, but when it bothers me, it bothers me! When Alex, the eleven-year- old main character, had a conversation with a five-year-old, it was nearly impossible to tell them apart.
The main reason why I decided not to give this another chance, is the mental illness representation. It seemed to me that Alex’s mother has a mental illness. Alex goes around telling everyone how he has to cook for his mother and she doesn’t even care he’s going on a trip all by himself. I really don’t like this narrative that people who have a mental illness are a burden for their family:
But my mom, she doesn’t care as long as I make us dinner and don’t bother her when she’s watching her shows. She’s a pretty cool mom.
My mom knows how to cook and she’s a great cook, but I’ve been making food for us so much this year that I’d feel bad if I didn’t do something. Plus she was having another one of her quiet days where she stays in bed and stares at all the little bumps on the ceiling. I think she likes counting them.
I wish I wasn’t so hard on this book. The author was born in China and the main character’s grandparents on his mother’s side are from the Philippines. Combined with the mental health, this could’ve been a promising diverse story, but I have my doubts after what I read about Alex’s mother.
conclusion: If you are still interested in reading this, I’d suggest you do! I tend to struggle with the writing style in children’s books, so it might be my own fault I wasn’t enjoyed this. And I’m very curious to see whether the representation of mental health is harmful or not.