Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass.
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers: NY, 2008.

The concept of the book is amazingly interesting: a family creates a campground, developing it for years, with the idea of sharing a total solar eclipse with enthusiasts. Their whole life revolves around the celebration of astronomical events. Both the experienced and newbies come for this awesome, rare happening.

The story is told by three characters: Ally, the oldest daughter of the campground owners who is an expert on the topic and whose shared anticipation increases others' interest; Bree, whose only interest is in becoming a supermodel and learns to her horror that her parents have made the ill-advised decision to start managing the campground after the eclipse; and Jack, a loner, failing his science class, whom his science teacher (a volunteer astronomer of some repute) asks to aid him with an experiment and management of the trip. The three make unlikely friendships and grow through the whole experience. They face situations they can't comprehend dealing with, and they support each other with the difficulties. They learn to see themselves in ways they hadn't considered before.

The story depicts astronomy in a way that is accessible and appealing. This fact in itself is unusual. How many books pique the reader's interest enough to learn more? - and still fewer related to science. There are a number of details related to the viewing of the planets, stars, moon, and total eclipses. The description of the total eclipse makes me want to know more and maybe see one. I had no idea it could be so interesting. It's amazing to think that people spend much of their lives (at least their vacations) traveling to the spots of perfect viewing. If nothing else, it makes me want to pull out a telescope or pair of binoculars.

So, Wendy Mass's book is successful in two endeavor's at least: igniting interest in astronomy and sharing a convincing glimpse of teenage personal growth. There are also some unique moments incorporated in the story. I especially enjoyed Jack's tale.

related-solar eclipses, friendships, coming of age
RL=7th-YA, also of interest to adults

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