October 8, 2015
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
We Are All Made of Molecules
by Susin Nielsen
Wendy Lamb Books
Stewart may be a virtual genius but that’s only book smarts. He has absolutely no clue how to deal with 80% of the human population — basically anyone who isn’t gifted or exceedingly tolerant. But that’s okay, he’s got his best friend, his dad and his cat, Schroedinger.
Then his Dad starts dating. Stewart’s mom died a year earlier and he doesn’t want his dad to forget her but he does want his dad to be happy. Even when Dad announced that they are moving into the girlfriend’s house with her teenage daughter, Steward manages to see the positives.
Until they move in. Stewart and Ashley are about as opposite as opposite can be. Ashley is at the top of the pecking order, dresses like a model and is certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is the girl all the other girls envy.
I know, I know. It sounds like a fairly tired story. Blended family. One brainy kid. One popular kid. Blah, blah, blah. But Nielsen throws in a few twists. Stewart’s mom died but Ashley’s Dad is still around. In fact, he’s living in the Laneway house in the back yard. Ashley hasn’t spoken to him since he moved out.
Then there’s Ashley’s boyfriend who is, to put it simply, scum. He’s very attractive scum so some people are slow to catch on and socially inept Steward is one of them, until he overhears the boyfriend discussing his date-rapey plans. Stewart wants to keep Ashley safe but Ashley isn’t interested in Stewart’s take on things until is almost to late.
As a character, I didn’t have any problems with Stewart. I know people like him; in reality, he’s probably on spectrum.
Ashley was another situation. Yes, I know people like her, but I don’t like them. Ashley isn’t as popular as she thinks but it takes breaking up with the boyfriend to find that out. When she does, she isn’t sure how to deal with things until Stewart and his uncool friends step in.
I think that my favorite part of this is that the kids come up with their own solution to the bullying problem. Yes, for a time, they sit around and fuss but they eventually get serious and make sure that everyone knows that they mean business. For me, that was one of the most powerful moments of the book.
In some ways, this felt like a middle grade – I think because Stewart is so socially immature. But because it deals with some really mature themes, it is definitely a young adult. It isn’t an altogether easy read but the humor is fantastic and the things it makes you think about? Well worth your time.