28 Sep / We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly [in Booklist]
Ramón De Ocampo, co-narrator of Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe (2017) and a fellow Filipino American, returns to Kelly’s work solo this time, ciphering three siblings who share an address but seemingly little else. Their combative parents are too distracted to be nurturing, leaving each to navigate adolescence alone.
Thirteen-year-old Cash and his 12-year-old twin siblings, Fitch and Bird, are all in seventh grade. As Cash, who feels like a failure for repeating a grade, de Ocampo is both gruff and yearning. As Fitch, whose obsession with arcade games helps him avoid people, de Ocampo is curt and impatient. As Bird – the book’s heart and soul – de Ocampo is his most affecting, at turns wistful, questioning, and determined.
Encouraged by a science project in anticipation of NASA’s Challenger launch, Bird dreams of becoming the first female shuttle commander. As familial relationships devolve and the Challenger tragically explodes, the siblings must rely on each other for support and safety. De Ocampo’s choice to give the science teacher an awkward accent is the single misstep in an otherwise resonating performance.