Farrar. Jul. 2020. 384p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374309763.
Gr 5-8–When unconventional Alma, who loves to be outdoors and wear dried flowers in her hair, moves from Old Haven to Four Points, anxiety, negative self-talk, and panic attacks set in. Indeed, Alma grows to be a deeply depressed recluse until a flyer for an astronomy club at school sparks curiosity. Through a borrowed quintescope, a unique telescope, Alma sees a girl fall from a star into her backyard, setting in motion a true quest and personal journey. Alma and her stargazing comrades must work together to save the “starling” and find themselves along the way. Alma’s story will set readers’ imaginations alight. This quirky novel mirrors its main character with its distinctive and spunky narrative voice. Readers will decode passages from the fallen star’s perspective to reveal plot clues, and eagerly observe Alma beginning to create a positive self-image. Short chapters keep the story moving at a quick clip. At times the adventure seems too easily fulfilled, quickly closing doors and lessening connections to the plot. Similarly, the conclusion seems overly optimistic. However, readers will appreciate that Alma’s panic attacks and depression are openly addressed with her family—perhaps that’s the true quest.
VERDICT Will appeal to science fiction adventurers with its unique voice and lively plot, but may not leave them thirsting for more. Recommended as a fresh addition to the science fiction tween genre.

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