Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . .
content warnings: swearing, underage drug and alcohol use (mild: weed, cigarettes one scene with drinking, no dependency or abuse showcased), absent parents, parent death (off page), child abandonment, mandated reporter neglect, sexual scenes (moderate), bullying, brief hospital stay, physical violence, brief depression mention, poverty, criminal activity, teen parent, mute character, polyamory.
First of all, thank you Mina for recommending this book. I’ve had it on my TBR (to be read) ever since and I finally got to read it earlier this year. Reading the synopsis, it can come off as a simple story but there were so many things that can be said about it.
For one, there are so many kinds of people represented in this story. Ryann and Alex are sapphic and black (Alex is biracial) and there are achillean characters, a Sikh, a polyamorous relationship and more; and while I cannot comment on the accuracy of the representations, I think it’s impressive that the author was able to include them in such a way where the overall plot didn’t feel disconnected. I think it also contributed to why I loved the found family element, where they were all so different with their backgrounds, struggles and experiences but close and caring for each other.
Along with the found family, there were at least 3 other family structures being portrayed in the book. Ryann herself is a parental figure in more than one way. Not only is she the ‘leader’ in her group of misfits, but she is also the guardian for her younger brother, James. With her seemingly tough outer layer, she defends and protects them as they do for each other. Equally, her ‘soft’ side also shows out and proves how she is able to keep these families together. I especially loved the relationship between her and her brother, they wholly support each other, communicate so well and keep each other grounded. I also loved the relationship among Alexandria’s family.
As for the romance, it was hate to love AND slow burn so I’d say their friendship and build up to the romance was more of the focus … and it was beautiful. It started on a rough note but lead to an endearing dynamic that was delightful to read. Also, the space subplot was really intriguing and pulled their relationship together well.
I really loved the writing. It comes of so simple with a smooth flow, but it really pulls you in. That, paired with the short chapters made it a fast paced read for me. One the note of chapters, I found it interesting how they were done (in time increments) although while I was reading, I didn’t pay it much attention. The clarity is great too as I was able to keep up with majority of the story though at one specific point, I had the general idea of what was going on but was so confused about the exact details and why it was even happening. But that might just be me.
In terms of the overall plot, I think it is solid but with a one or two questionable moments. For one, there is a part of the story that I thought was maybe a bit off. The way how the accident played out and how it was handled* by Alex’s father was a bit concerning to me. But not enough to sway me from liking the book.
*spoiler alert – highlight to read
Alex’s father allowed Ryann to go into Alex’s room directly after the incident when she was still in the hospital and even gave her (Ryann) a key. It was strange to me because he didn’t know her well enough to trust her. Besides, it was sort of her/ her friends bullying that caused the accident to happen in the first place. I guess he forgave them but he didn’t even consult with Alex to see if it was okay with her. Strange.
On a more personal level, my biggest take away from this book is to SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES, and that’s all I can say without spoiling ;’).
Overall, this is a book filled with pure hope, care and love among the characters. The story is definitely an unconventional one but it pulls and keeps you in till the end.