Every Soul a Star

Three teens and lessons in friendship and constellations shine in this novel aimed at adolescent readers.

Every Soul a Star By Wendy Mass Little, Brown 336 pp. $15.99

Ally, short for Alpha, and her younger brother know a lot about constellations. After all, they live at Moon Shadow Campground, in the middle of nowhere, with lots of big sky, telescopes, and infinite stars.

Meanwhile, Ally’s counterpart Bree knows fashion and has the latest scoop on all the celebrities. She prefers high-heel sandals and pink tank tops. But all that’s changing. Bree, her younger brother, and their scientist parents are about to pack their possessions into the family’s beat-up van and move to Moon Shadow, just in time for a solar eclipse.

Slightly dorky Jack is also on his way to the Great Eclipse Party. He’s good at drawing spaceships and little green men, although not so good at passing tests. So in lieu of summer school, he’s agreed to help his science teacher lead a tour group to the eclipse.

The three teens make an unlikely group in Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass. While Ally worries they’ll run out of toilet paper and Bree frets over her inability to text message, Jack searches for quiet places to escape the crowds.

But by story’s end, Bree acknowledges her inner geek. Jack learns to make friends. And Ally accepts her parents’ decision to leave Moon Shadow. All three learn to accept changes they cannot control – and to help each other understand why.

In Mass’s skillful hand, the writing never becomes clichéd. From Ally’s parents and brother to the cool older boy and his grandfather, her characters ring true.

And whether you know or care that Cassiopeia’s bright stars spell out the letter M, you’ll be swept away by the science in this book. Carefully documented in the author’s end note, there’s plenty here for budding astronomers.

The pull of the three distinct voices and their layered stories make this novel perfect for young teens not quite ready for edgier fiction. “Every Soul a Star” is a humorous and touching novel of friendship.

This is the kind of book that kids should still be reading in August 2017, the next time a solar eclipse will be on view in the US.

Augusta Scattergood is a freelance writer in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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