Published: April 6th, 2017
Synopsis: Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.
And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …
Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters, it goes straight to your heart.
Diversity: Meg and Elsa are both mixed race. Annie has a type of cerebral palsy and she is visibly seen with all that comes with that, rather than it being glossed over.
Warnings: neglective parent
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for giving me permission to read this galley!
Stargazing for Beginners to a straight up brilliant book.
It’s well written with some wonderful insights into being young, being in secondary school and trying to fit in where you don’t feel like you do. This is definitely something that most people on one level or another can relate to. It is also well researched – all the science facts, the history of space travel and women in it build not only a sense of the world we live in but also a sense of who has made Meg – our protagonist – who she is today.
Megara Clark may be one of the most relatable characters I’ve read about. Her fears about public speaking stemming from little ‘harmless’ jokes are something so personally relatable to me that in parts it felt like I was reading my own diary (if I had ever kept one). In literature for young people, it is important to show how what one person believes to be harmless can have a serious affect on someone’s self-esteem and well-being. It is this personal understanding to Meg that made it so heartwarming to read about her overcoming that fears, to read about her standing her ground and speaking out and not just rolling over and letting herself feel lesser than anyone else around her.
Aside from Meg, all the characters that McLachlan writes are strong and hold your interested in this story with their distinct and – in some cases – wild personalities. Elsa is the facility in which Meg learns to rely on others and overcome challenges and that maybe some things are more important. Her mother and her grandfather, both untamed spirits, who do without thinking, are the antithesis of who Meg is but it is their strong beliefs and their even stronger sense of adventure that allows Meg to grow as a person.
(I will add, however, on the subject of Meg’s mother – I tend to hate neglective parents like her, and I can’t say that I got to the end of this book and cared for her. I still believe her selfish and unthinking of her children, but by the end of the piece, it seems as if she is beginning to understand slightly better how she can affect those around her negativity even if she’s trying to do a positive. That character development is commendable.)
I enjoyed reading about Annie – outspoken and loud, a complete opposite of Meg – and Rose – sweet and always trying – and Jackson, who wasn’t even supposed to be there but he still finds himself helping and making friends and becoming part of this “ground team”. I liked reading about Ed, the love interest, too. Whilst their romance was very cliche, Meg and Ed start from this point over competition over their own intelligence, something that very really happens in the books I’ve read. As Meg opens up, she realises that Ed is more than he looks – just like she is.
I definitely appreciated this book more living in England and having visited the University of Sussex and all the surrounding places. It makes this story familiar and really close to home, which I think works really well considering the themes that are discussed throughout. When Meg is left with her sister, you feel as if you’ve probably seen her. The few instants of slang terms are probably ones that you’ve used. This secondary school dynamic that is so different from how high school is portrayed in American films and books, something that still has a lasting effect on one’s person but in a unique way.
It took me probably about a day to read this book. I started it one evening and finished it the next morning. The chapters were short and quick, meaning you have read so much and not felt like you did. There were appropriate arcs and engaging characters, complicated and relatable issues. I wouldn’t have said that there were many flaws if any. It’s just a sweet read about embracing who you are and I totally recommend it.