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Clues to the Universe

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This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead. The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinis This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead. The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together. Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him. Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place? As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.


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This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead. The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinis This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead. The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together. Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him. Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place? As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

30 review for Clues to the Universe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    Content warnings: (view spoiler)[grief, death of a parent, parental abandonment, bullying. (hide spoiler)] This book tore my heart to pieces and put it back together and I did NOT see that coming. Don't get me wrong, I knew this book deals with grief, it's right there in the synopsis, but what I didn't expect is how beautiful the depiction was and how soft and tender and heart achingly sweet this book would be. Clues to the Universe is a story set in the 1980s (which I didn't know, for some reason Content warnings: (view spoiler)[grief, death of a parent, parental abandonment, bullying. (hide spoiler)] This book tore my heart to pieces and put it back together and I did NOT see that coming. Don't get me wrong, I knew this book deals with grief, it's right there in the synopsis, but what I didn't expect is how beautiful the depiction was and how soft and tender and heart achingly sweet this book would be. Clues to the Universe is a story set in the 1980s (which I didn't know, for some reason I thought it was a contemporary) that showcases a beautiful friendship between Ro, a biracial Chinese-American girl whose only dream is to be a rocket scientist and Benji, a white boy whose head is full of dreams and fictional stories he renders in drawings. What I loved most about their friendship is how genuine and real it felt, how there was so much love in it, but also conflict like between any 12 year olds navigating the dynamics of a new friendship while also dealing with their own grief and heartache, but being there for each other above all. Conflict and differences be damned. The exploration of grief is genuinely some of my favorite I've ever read, it's so simple yet complex. It shows just how insidious grief can be, how it's not just this overwhelming feeling that takes over all the time, how it can also be found in small ways, in day to day mundane things, in little reminders that feel like a punch in the gut. Clues to the Universe shows that grief ebbs and flows and never truly goes away. It also shows through both Ro and Benji's feelings and actions how even though it's a universal experience, different people experience it and cope with it differently. All of the above makes the book so bittersweet, the perfect read to cuddle up with on a rainy day.

  2. 4 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    My full review is now on my book blog, The Quite Pond. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, and it DELIVERED - and also shattered my heart in the process. Clues to the Universe is a splendid, heart-aching, and soft debut and y'all absolutely need to read this. - Follows Ro, a biracial Chinese-White American kid who is starting a new school following the death of her father. She's trying to build a rocket - so she can send tangible memories of her father into space so that they can be My full review is now on my book blog, The Quite Pond. This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, and it DELIVERED - and also shattered my heart in the process. Clues to the Universe is a splendid, heart-aching, and soft debut and y'all absolutely need to read this. - Follows Ro, a biracial Chinese-White American kid who is starting a new school following the death of her father. She's trying to build a rocket - so she can send tangible memories of her father into space so that they can be preserved forever - and finds unlikely help in Benji, a comic-book lover who is trying to find his lost father. - What I loved about this book is that it thoroughly and tenderly explores grief. The way Christina Li describes grief - in the little moments and the reminders - was so raw. But it's also a hopeful story; one that's gentle in its depictions of grief and guides the reader through a wonderful and emotive story. - This book is just so... soft and sweet. There are moments of bittersweet, but I just loved how the two characters, who feel immense and insurmountable grief and loss, find belonging, closure, and connection in one another. - The friendship between these two was such a highlight. There's a bit of conflict too - and I think that Christina Li does an amazing job at building it up and resolving it. In fact, the conflict makes Ro and Benji's friendship stronger. Honestly? Add this to your reading lists. This is a fantastic debut and I cannot wait to see what Christina writes next. I was provided an eARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Trigger/content warning: death of loved one (not described, but remembered), bullying

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    full review now up on my blog. I AM CRYING IN THE CLUB RN. full review now up on my blog. I AM CRYING IN THE CLUB RN.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Enne

    4 stars This book really is the embodiment of “messy kids big hearts” because, throughout this book, both Ro and Benji are consistently very messy and get themselves in a lot of messes and say a lot of messy, not very-well-thought-out things to each other, but throughout it all, you can still tell how much they love each other and how much they want each other to succeed. This is one of my favorite kinds of friendship stories to read because I think it perfectly captures the imperfection of frien 4 stars This book really is the embodiment of “messy kids big hearts” because, throughout this book, both Ro and Benji are consistently very messy and get themselves in a lot of messes and say a lot of messy, not very-well-thought-out things to each other, but throughout it all, you can still tell how much they love each other and how much they want each other to succeed. This is one of my favorite kinds of friendship stories to read because I think it perfectly captures the imperfection of friendship. This book has a sort of melancholy to it that I really loved it. It’s very bittersweet, in that it’s a book about death and grief and endings, but it’s also a book about joy and new dreams and new beginnings. I really loved that Ro’s and Benji’s dreams were both such a central part of the story. I really loved how they played off of each other and how those dreams played such a large part in the development of the characters and also the plot. I also really loved the contrasting family dynamics in this book! I do wish that we had gotten a bit more of an exploration of Benji’s family dynamic, but I really loved what we got to see of it and how it compared to Ro’s family dynamic!! I just think it was really interesting to see the two side-by-side and to see how both Ro and Benji thought that the grass was greener on the other side and how that played into some of the conflicts we saw between them. I thought this book also had a really good exploration of grief, despite the fact that it wasn’t really a main part of the story. Even though it wasn’t something that was often focused on in the story, it was something that felt like it was threaded throughout the entire story and I really loved that aspect of it because, to me, it really spoke of how grief can be a constant thing, even if you don’t notice it. There are so many things to love about this book, but my favorite thing, without a doubt, is how unabashedly and unapologetically Ro and Benji care. Care about each other, care about their families, care about their hobbies, care about the things that are important to them. They get things wrong sometimes and make mistakes because they’re kids, but they never shy away from admitting how much they care about something or someone and I loved that. This book made me incredibly emotional and it was such a bittersweet, but also such a comforting read, and I absolutely cannot recommend it enough. trigger warnings: death of a parent, grief, parental abandonment, bullying rep: biracial MC (Chinese/white), Chinese side characters

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yan

    I didn’t expect to love this book so much. I’m sad because I want more of Benji and Ro. Maybe a sequel in which they’re older? LIKE PLEASE?!

  6. 4 out of 5

    rain

    content/trigger warnings: death of a parent or loved one, bullying, grief, divorce, abandonment - This is a story about family and friendship that will make you feel things I am used to reading fast-paced fantasy middle grade books which is why I was pleasantly surprised when this quiet middle grade swept me off my feet. Clues to the Universe is a brilliant debut set in the 1980s that follows Ro and Benji—two promising kids who unexpectedly found friendship through science and comics. I love content/trigger warnings: death of a parent or loved one, bullying, grief, divorce, abandonment - This is a story about family and friendship that will make you feel things I am used to reading fast-paced fantasy middle grade books which is why I was pleasantly surprised when this quiet middle grade swept me off my feet. Clues to the Universe is a brilliant debut set in the 1980s that follows Ro and Benji—two promising kids who unexpectedly found friendship through science and comics. I love how the progression of their bond seemed so realistic, showing the highs and lows of new friendship in an endearing way. Clues to the Universe also explores family dynamics. Ro and Benji yearn for their fathers, and they both found a certain connection to each other because of this. I also admire how this book shows the contrast between Ro and Benji's families and how it showcases the love their mothers have for them. - It features a raw exploration of grief that punched me in the heart I cried at least five times when I read this book. Christina Li's raw portrayal of grief and loss broke me into a hundred pieces. Despite the heaviness of these concepts, I believe that Christina portrayed both in a way that is still palatable to younger readers. This is a book that will tug your heartstrings, regardless of age. Despite all the waterworks, this book is not entirely bleak. I definitely felt a lot of pain while reading it but accompanying that was a feeling of hope. Ro and Benji, despite everything they've been through, have big hearts and big dreams. I couldn't help but cheer them on with a smile on my lips and tears in my eyes. note: i received an advanced copy of this book from the published and edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    The 80's are my jam, so I love discovering new juvenile fiction set in that era. This book is set in 1983 and a time when we were ramping up our space game with the space shuttles. Christina Li tells us the story of Rosalind (Ro) and Benjamin (Benji) with alternating POV chapters. They accidentally switch purple folders in their first science class of the year and soon have a pact. Ro will have help building a rocket she had started with her late father for the science fair. While working on the The 80's are my jam, so I love discovering new juvenile fiction set in that era. This book is set in 1983 and a time when we were ramping up our space game with the space shuttles. Christina Li tells us the story of Rosalind (Ro) and Benjamin (Benji) with alternating POV chapters. They accidentally switch purple folders in their first science class of the year and soon have a pact. Ro will have help building a rocket she had started with her late father for the science fair. While working on their rocket Ro will help Benji look for his absent father (now a famous comic book artist/writer) and get extra credit for their science fair project thus avoiding the threat of losing art class for an extra study hall. It's a win-win, right? Not so fast. There is a prank war that could derail their project. Benji's mom does not want to talk about his dad. Ro's extended family is trying to get her and her mom to relocate from Sacramento to San Francisco. I loved the way the alternating chapters gave us intimate glimpses into each of their lives and households and also the connections they already had like Mr. Voltz. There is a frantic road trip to LA and fascinating facts about building a rocket. Highly recommended! Thank you to Quill Tree Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tammie

    Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Clues to the Universe is a story about a girl and a boy who are both so different yet so alike in many different ways, and their unlikely friendship. At the beginning of the book, Ro has just recently lost her dad in an accident, while Benji is determined to find his father who walked out on him when he was a toddler. Ro agrees to help Benji find his father if he helps her build the rocket that she was supposed t Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Clues to the Universe is a story about a girl and a boy who are both so different yet so alike in many different ways, and their unlikely friendship. At the beginning of the book, Ro has just recently lost her dad in an accident, while Benji is determined to find his father who walked out on him when he was a toddler. Ro agrees to help Benji find his father if he helps her build the rocket that she was supposed to build with her father. This is a beautiful debut novel from Christina Li. The way this book explores grief is so incredibly moving - every single person in the book has experienced grief and trauma in one way or another, and each of them have their own way of coping with that grief. Some of my favourite moments were actually when we got a glimpse of the adults in Ro and Benji's lives dealing with their grief through the eyes of these two children. This book explores some pretty heavy themes in a way that is very accessible and perfect for a younger audience. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I had anticipated, and I think this is such a great book for readers of all ages.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    This was so wholesome I can't even😭😍 This was so wholesome I can't even😭😍

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC Provided by Netgalley It's 1983, and Ro is starting a new school. After the death of her father, her mother could no longer afford the tuition at her private school. She is anxious about being new, but switches folders in science class with Benji by mistake, and the two are intrigued by each other and strike up a friendship, eating lunch together in the cafeteria instead of hiding. Ro is trying to build a model rocket, because she and her father were interested in the space shuttle, and Ben E ARC Provided by Netgalley It's 1983, and Ro is starting a new school. After the death of her father, her mother could no longer afford the tuition at her private school. She is anxious about being new, but switches folders in science class with Benji by mistake, and the two are intrigued by each other and strike up a friendship, eating lunch together in the cafeteria instead of hiding. Ro is trying to build a model rocket, because she and her father were interested in the space shuttle, and Benji draws comics. Ro asks a neighbor, Mr. Voltz, for help with her project, since he was involved in radio operations during the war and is missing his own family. Benji is sure that the author of one of his favorites is actually his father, who left when he was very young. His mother won't discuss him, but his older brother is somewhat sympathetic to his search. There is a boy at school giving both Ro and Benji a hard time; he even destroys their science fair poster. Ro finds out that her mother is thinking about moving them closer to her extended Chinese family. When Benji finds out that his father is coming to a comic con a couple of hours away, he approaches Ro about going with him, but the two have a falling out. When Benji goes missing, Ro knows where to find him. Will the two be able to rectify their family lives, explore their own interests, and get on with their lives... even if they are separated. Strengths: This was well written and fairly engaging. Ro starts out very anxious, but quickly warms up and her passion for rocketry. Benji's interest in comics will connect with a lot of readers. Their friendship is mutually beneficial, and they learn from each other's strong points. I found the families to be particularly well portrayed. While both are missing their fathers, they are trying to find positive ways forward, which keeps the book from being too sad and slow. Weaknesses: If it hadn't been specifically stated that this was set in 1983, there would have been no way to know. Aside from the lack of technology, the setting and reactions seem very modern. It seemed very odd that Benji's mother would have been so secretive about his father. Also, any self-respecting middle school boy in 1983 would have gone by Ben rather than Benji, since the 1974 movie by that title was still fresh in everyone's mind. Half the dogs I knew were called Benji. What I really think: The friendship between Ro and Benji, as well as their relationship with their family, makes this seem like more of an elementary school book. Had it been more humorous or had more adventure, I would have bought it, but since so much of the realistic fiction being published skews to the sad and philosophical, I am well stocked on titles like this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alysa

    Christina Li’s debut, CLUES TO UNIVERSE is told in alternating POVs between Ro and Benji, two twelve-year-olds who are both searching for a connection to their lost fathers. Both kids are adrift when they are thrust together as lab partners in science class. Polar opposites, the kids find little reason to connect at first. Ro, who loves science, is organized almost to a fault, whereas Benji is barely passing math and science. But what begins as an unlikely pairing soon develops into a loyal part Christina Li’s debut, CLUES TO UNIVERSE is told in alternating POVs between Ro and Benji, two twelve-year-olds who are both searching for a connection to their lost fathers. Both kids are adrift when they are thrust together as lab partners in science class. Polar opposites, the kids find little reason to connect at first. Ro, who loves science, is organized almost to a fault, whereas Benji is barely passing math and science. But what begins as an unlikely pairing soon develops into a loyal partnership, with Ro and Benji dedicating themselves to helping the other find or foster a way to connect with their lost fathers. Themes of connections lost and found, friendship, and learning to accept that perfection is not necessarily always so perfect are woven beautifully throughout the book. The alternating POVs draw the reader in and help illuminate that our differences aren't so different after all. The character of Mr. Voltz, an elderly shop owner who plays in both Ro and Benjis stories, especially pulled at my heart as I love nothing more than an intergenerational story. Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an e-arc of Christina Li's wonderful debut. I look forward to reading more works from the author

  12. 4 out of 5

    belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)

    actual rating: 4.5 stars fell in love with these two space babies. rtc

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A girl who loves science and a boy who loves comic books forge a beautiful friendship around their shared search for family connection. I loved the way this story touched on cosmic things... not just rocket launches and craters on the moon, but our cosmic connections to our families and friends, and our need to make sense of the mysterious universe we all share. Many thanks to Harper Collins/Quill Tree Books for the ARC of CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    Can a book make your heart burst with joy yet ache with longing at the same time?  I literally never cry when it comes to books...I only cried once and that honor went to Anne of Green Gables. But Clues to the Universe touched me so deeply and gave me all the feels! This incredible debut novel is now going on my favorites of all time list. I'll be posting a...er...professional review...eventually...once I stop sobbing inside, but in the meantime, just do yourself a favor and read it!!! Can a book make your heart burst with joy yet ache with longing at the same time?  I literally never cry when it comes to books...I only cried once and that honor went to Anne of Green Gables. But Clues to the Universe touched me so deeply and gave me all the feels! This incredible debut novel is now going on my favorites of all time list. I'll be posting a...er...professional review...eventually...once I stop sobbing inside, but in the meantime, just do yourself a favor and read it!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Afnan

    This is probably my favourite middle grade book that I've ever read . It was so wholesome and it warmed my heart. I loved this so much. This is probably my favourite middle grade book that I've ever read . It was so wholesome and it warmed my heart. I loved this so much.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    What is a great friendship book for elementary and middle school kids? Clues to the Universe by Christina Li is! What is true friendship? Is it only doing what you want to do and not considering the other person’s feelings? Is it being there for your best friend when they are hurting, even if you are hurting yourself? Ro and Benji are two of the unlikeliest friends in the universe. Ro is a science nerd and Benji is an artist/comic book nerd. Benji and Ro sit next to each other in science class on th What is a great friendship book for elementary and middle school kids? Clues to the Universe by Christina Li is! What is true friendship? Is it only doing what you want to do and not considering the other person’s feelings? Is it being there for your best friend when they are hurting, even if you are hurting yourself? Ro and Benji are two of the unlikeliest friends in the universe. Ro is a science nerd and Benji is an artist/comic book nerd. Benji and Ro sit next to each other in science class on the first day of school. They accidentally swap folders and this is how they formed an alliance. Ro’s folder was filled with math and diagrams on building her rocket. Benji’s folder was full of his drawings and his favorite comic book, Spacebound. The alliance! The alliance begins when Benji helps Ro build her rocket for the science fair, plus if Benji does good in Science then maybe his mom won’t make him drop Art. In exchange, Ro is going to help Benji find the dad that ran out on him, his mom, and his brother nine years ago. The friendship! The friendship begins when they learn each other secrets. Ro is building the rocket that she and her father began building before he was tragically killed in a car wreck. She feels that if she can launch this rocket into outer space then she can somehow magically reach him. Benji realizes that his long lost dad is the creator of his favorite comic books and he thinks that he is leaving secret message to Benji on how to find him Their friendship takes a punch when two major things happen: 1) the school bully ruins their science fair project and Benji doesn’t do anything about it and 2) Ro pushes Benji too hard to find his dad and Benji snaps at her. Can their friendship recover from this fight? Can they forgive each other for the mean things they have said to each other? And then Benji goes missing. Will Ro be able to find him before something bad happens? Do not miss this incredible story of friendship, loyalty, and family issues that seem too big to overcome. Why I love this book! This book will grab you from the first page! The heartbreak of a father who has been tragically taken from you plus losing your best friend and feeling all alone hits you right out of the gate. I believe the loneliness of these two characters is what attracts them to each other. To watch these two grow close enough to each other to share their secret hopes and fears is touching. You will fall in love with these two characters and root them on every step of the way! Don’t miss this one!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv

    [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] “Clues to the Universe” is a fantastic middle-grade novel that talks about friendship and aspirations, and I loved reading it! It’s rare to come across novels that touch you emotionally. It’s also a pleasant surprise that this happens to be the debut novel by the author. I thought it was perfect! The author touches on many factors like bullying, adjusting to a new place, making friends, and coping with losing a loved one. On t [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] “Clues to the Universe” is a fantastic middle-grade novel that talks about friendship and aspirations, and I loved reading it! It’s rare to come across novels that touch you emotionally. It’s also a pleasant surprise that this happens to be the debut novel by the author. I thought it was perfect! The author touches on many factors like bullying, adjusting to a new place, making friends, and coping with losing a loved one. On top of all this, there is also a mystery that the team investigates in finding Benji’s father. Ro and Benji are exceptional on their own. Ro is inspiring because she tries her best and puts effort into her work as a coping mechanism. In contrast, Benji tries to be brave and stand up for what is right, even if it means making enemies in the process. Both of them share a beautiful friendship where they support and overcome their challenges. They bring out the best in each other. For instance, there are some memorable moments in the story when Ro breaks down in front of Benji after the project incident and when they launch the rocket for the first time. Also, Drew was impressive in the negative role, and I liked how the author handled the bullying issue. Similarly, the author paces the story very well with the events that took place in the 80s. I loved the storyline of Benji searching for his father because I didn’t know what to expect. The author also dynamically writes the story, alternating between Ro and Benji’s perspectives between chapters. This method made the reading experience fresh and exciting. Overall, I loved everything about this book. I highly recommended it to anyone in the mood for a realistic, middle-grade novel set in the 80s.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Thomas

    An amazing debut that is absolutely beautiful. Such a heartwarming, heart tugging story of two kids searching for different things while slowly finding themselves. Being lost and struggling with that lonely feeling is tough, but to do it in middle school - whew - that can be even tougher. There is a lot of emotion in this book, but it is NOT heavy for middle grade readers. I really loved the deep diving it did into the grief - it was an amazing explanation done differently than any other story I An amazing debut that is absolutely beautiful. Such a heartwarming, heart tugging story of two kids searching for different things while slowly finding themselves. Being lost and struggling with that lonely feeling is tough, but to do it in middle school - whew - that can be even tougher. There is a lot of emotion in this book, but it is NOT heavy for middle grade readers. I really loved the deep diving it did into the grief - it was an amazing explanation done differently than any other story I have read. As someone who has lost their father and explored all of those realms, I do like reading stories where kids are exploring their grief and trying to understand and accept. Topics/themes covered: STEM, art, grief, friendship, alliance, loyalty, and family Highly recommend for your middle grade classes. Would be an amazing read aloud and the content connection with science and art.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    A heartwarming story told in alternating points-of-view between Ro & Benji, two middle school students in the 1980s who develop an accidental friendship. Ro, an aspiring rocket scientist & Benji, an aspiring artist are both suffering from losing their fathers, but form an unlikely friendship and learn about themselves as they form a bond through comics and a rocket-building science project. Thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC for this story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    Ro and Benji team up to complete their projects. Together they will build the rocket and enter it in the science fair. They will also search for clues in the comic books to discover the whereabouts of Benji's father. Their friendship is real and raw and organic. It grows over the course of the novel after the two accidentally swap folders. This is a friendship in the days before texting and cellphones but there is still bullying, rumors, and other middle school nastiness. http://pussreboots.com/bl Ro and Benji team up to complete their projects. Together they will build the rocket and enter it in the science fair. They will also search for clues in the comic books to discover the whereabouts of Benji's father. Their friendship is real and raw and organic. It grows over the course of the novel after the two accidentally swap folders. This is a friendship in the days before texting and cellphones but there is still bullying, rumors, and other middle school nastiness. http://pussreboots.com/blog/2021/comm... Couple / Family Uhoria Interstate 33CC00 Set in 1983-4 Sacrament/Los Angeles/San Francisco

  21. 5 out of 5

    Terry Jennings

    A sweet story of two accidental friends who, in trying to help the other, find what they were looking for themselves. A tale of a spunky rocket scientist girl and an artist boy will grab your heart.

  22. 5 out of 5

    chloe ♡

    review to come!! i loved this so much <3

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Growing up my best friend was the boy who lived next door, we used to play for hours drawing pictures and playing in his backyard, so I'm always drawn to stories that feature a strong boy and girl friendship. Ro and Benji are such endearing characters who at first don't have much in common. Ro likes science and working on her model rocket to commemorate her father, Benji is an artist who hopes that the extra credit from the science fair will improve his grade enough so his mom won't force him to Growing up my best friend was the boy who lived next door, we used to play for hours drawing pictures and playing in his backyard, so I'm always drawn to stories that feature a strong boy and girl friendship. Ro and Benji are such endearing characters who at first don't have much in common. Ro likes science and working on her model rocket to commemorate her father, Benji is an artist who hopes that the extra credit from the science fair will improve his grade enough so his mom won't force him to give up his art class. What connects the two is how they feel about their dad's. Ro is grieving the loss of hers and Benji wants to connect with his, never really having known him since he left when he was still very young. All that Benji knows about his life boils down to a box of his things. This is a really sweet story and love how it alternates between Ro and Benji's points of view. While the story portrays Ro's grief over her father's death, it also has these very enjoyable playful moments that Benji and Ro share, like when Ro catches Benji being distracted in class, and nudges him to "pay attention doofus." Despite having a strong friendship, they do have a moment where they have a falling apart, which makes them resolving things that much sweeter. The adults in the story also were something that really stood out to me, like Mr. Voltz, Ro's elderly next door neighbor and both Ro and Benji's mothers. Such a delightful read and brought to mind my own youthful friendships.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shakirah Bourne

    CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE tells the story of the aspiring rocket scientist Ro and budding comic artist Benji, who both are struggling with the loss of their fathers, and find an unlikely bond through comics and a rocket-building science project. Li has a way of creating characters that you want to be friends with, and that you care about in just a few pages. The STEM elements in this book are especially welcoming. Who needs to buy a radio if you have a friend like Ro who can make one in her lab? Ben CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE tells the story of the aspiring rocket scientist Ro and budding comic artist Benji, who both are struggling with the loss of their fathers, and find an unlikely bond through comics and a rocket-building science project. Li has a way of creating characters that you want to be friends with, and that you care about in just a few pages. The STEM elements in this book are especially welcoming. Who needs to buy a radio if you have a friend like Ro who can make one in her lab? Benji, Ro, and even secondary characters like their moms and Mr Voltz are all beautifully expressed, and the author aptly shows how each person processes loss in their own heart-wrenching way This was a highly engaging and emotional read! It reminds us all that life rarely goes as planned, but the journey is always better with good friends by your side. I look forward to the author's next book! Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC to this wonderful story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ace

    THIS BOOK WAS BEAUTIFUL. Christina Li tackles so many emotions and introduces us to 2 charming characters; Ro and Benji. I was invested from beginning to start and still cannot stop thinking about how if I read this when I was 12, it definitely would've changed me. This book is so influential and impactful, full review on my blog soon!! Thank you to Christina & HarperCollins for the e-ARC! THIS BOOK WAS BEAUTIFUL. Christina Li tackles so many emotions and introduces us to 2 charming characters; Ro and Benji. I was invested from beginning to start and still cannot stop thinking about how if I read this when I was 12, it definitely would've changed me. This book is so influential and impactful, full review on my blog soon!! Thank you to Christina & HarperCollins for the e-ARC!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    SO GOOD! Full review to come. 😊

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. This story is told in the alternating voices of Ro and Benji. Ro is starting a new school and is reeling from the death of her father a few months ago. Benji's best friend moved away and he's immersed himself in the world of his comics. When they accidentally switch purple folders during science class, they get a glimpse into the other's lives, and are brought together when they return the folders and decide to work together to f Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. This story is told in the alternating voices of Ro and Benji. Ro is starting a new school and is reeling from the death of her father a few months ago. Benji's best friend moved away and he's immersed himself in the world of his comics. When they accidentally switch purple folders during science class, they get a glimpse into the other's lives, and are brought together when they return the folders and decide to work together to find Benji's dad, and build Ro's rocket for their science fair project. But things don't run smoothly with either project, and the pair will have to accept that sometimes plans don't always turn out the way you expect, and less than perfect may be good enough. I really love the characters in this story, and the alternating viewpoints makes this a richer story with the perspective of both kids. I also love that Mr. Voltz, an elderly neighbor of Ro and the boss of Benji's brother, Daniel, is connected to each of them in the beginning but plays a unifying role as the story develops. Ro's family is Chinese American, and Benji gets to spend Chinese New Year with them, so I enjoyed the inclusion of the cultural details. I also saw a lot of myself in Ro, including her tenacity, her inability to give up on an idea, and wanting things to turn out perfect or the way they are "supposed" to be. There's a lot that these characters can teach each other, and their influence on each other is powerful. I would recommend this book for middle grade classrooms and libraries, and I look forward to reading more from this debut author.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Morrell

    I was lucky enough to receive a requested ARC of this book. Clues the Universe by gifted author Christina Li really surprised me with its warmth and engaging story centered around two seventh graders, Ro (Rosalind Ling Geraghty) and Benji (Benjamin Burns). We meet science-minded Ro when she is trying to cope with her beloved and like-minded dad being killed by a drunk driver. Benji is an artist and the very opposite of Ro's orderly list making. He is also missing his dad which walked out on his I was lucky enough to receive a requested ARC of this book. Clues the Universe by gifted author Christina Li really surprised me with its warmth and engaging story centered around two seventh graders, Ro (Rosalind Ling Geraghty) and Benji (Benjamin Burns). We meet science-minded Ro when she is trying to cope with her beloved and like-minded dad being killed by a drunk driver. Benji is an artist and the very opposite of Ro's orderly list making. He is also missing his dad which walked out on his mom and brother when he was very young. When these two join forces to help the other, they discover the friendship they both needed. The story is told in page-turning alternating voice chapters between Ro and Benji. I loved the relatable and realistic characters that were so easy to see in my head. It didn't hurt that it took places in the early 1980s as well which harkened back to thoughts of my own childhood. The best books are ones that have unforgettable side characters and this book checked that box for me. Mr. Voltz was a great example of this. The wait for my pre-order will be excruciating, but I cannot wait to recommend this realistic fiction to my students in 5th grade, but I would highly recommend for high level 4-5th graders up reluctant 8th graders. A speedy and well worth the wait read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    itskoo

    **I was provided a copy of the book by the author and publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.** Clues to the Universe is a slice of life novel about two seventh graders. While it deals with multiple aspects of growing up, including bullying and making new friends, it is grounded in dealing with loss. Ro and Benji are individually trying to overcome their feelings about not having their dads around, neither realizing that maybe what they need is a **I was provided a copy of the book by the author and publisher through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.** Clues to the Universe is a slice of life novel about two seventh graders. While it deals with multiple aspects of growing up, including bullying and making new friends, it is grounded in dealing with loss. Ro and Benji are individually trying to overcome their feelings about not having their dads around, neither realizing that maybe what they need is a peer for support along the way. A mix-up in class forces Ro and Benji to talk and become science partners, making a deal that Ro will help Benji find his dad while Benji agrees to help Ro with her rocket. Slowly, the relationship becomes more than something obligatory; it blossoms into a friendship. While they are somewhat opposites of each other, Ro and Benji fit together well because sometimes it's the differences between us that will motivate us to grow, to become better versions of ourselves. It's this aspect of the book that I enjoyed the most, seeing the changes in both Ro and Benji as they started spending more time together. Li's ability to tease out their developing friendship, anchoring each's perception of their relationship through the things they love or enjoy--Benjamin's through drawing and comics and Ro's through science and the scientific method--was another aspect of the book I enjoyed. This is a story about two lonely individuals who didn't realize how much they needed support and understanding from someone with similar experiences and unexpectedly found that in each other. Individuals who have experienced any kind of loss, not just that of a parent, will be able to relate to the heartbreak and yearning as well as to asking questions that don't necessarily have answers. (3.5 stars rounded to 4)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Payal Doshi

    I was lucky enough to read an ARC of CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE by Christina Li and it is, without doubt, one of the best books I have read this year! Set in the 1980s, the book follows a year in the life of Rosalind Geraghty and Benjamin Burns, two middle-schoolers navigating their way through school and dealing with the absence of each of their fathers. What I loved apart from Li's vivid writing are the two main characters, Ro and Benji. Ro is a budding scientist and the thing she most wants to do I was lucky enough to read an ARC of CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE by Christina Li and it is, without doubt, one of the best books I have read this year! Set in the 1980s, the book follows a year in the life of Rosalind Geraghty and Benjamin Burns, two middle-schoolers navigating their way through school and dealing with the absence of each of their fathers. What I loved apart from Li's vivid writing are the two main characters, Ro and Benji. Ro is a budding scientist and the thing she most wants to do is to successfuly launch a rocket while Benji loves drawing comics and is really good at it. Li manages to deal with heavy, heartbreaking issues like the loss or absence of a parent and the effects it has on the kids with such a heartwarming touch and with lighthearted humor that keeps the reader wanting to know more. I also LOVED reading about a girl who is interested in STEM and a boy who loves art. The two characters' interests have been researched incredibly well and I actually learned things about a rocket launch and comic book art that I hadn't known of before! All in all, this is a beautiful story of family and friendship, in which the supporting characters, too, hold a special place in your heart. A definite, must-read!

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