With Virgil struggling with making friends, he goes to a neighborhood self-proclaimed psychic for help. When a bully gets him stuck in a well, the psychic, her sister, and another of her clients goes on a mission to find and save Virgil.
Why this book?: I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and it sounded so cute!!
I haven’t heard much about this book besides the fact that it was a cute book on friendship. I had just gotten a Scribd subscription, and this was the first book that I decided to read on it. Hello, Universe is a cute, middle grade novel that was an extremely fast read. I read this book in about 4 hours, all in one sitting.
The diversity of the characters was really amazing. Virgil is Filipino, while Kaori and her sister Gen are Japanese. I loved how their cultures were still entwined into their stories, such as Virgil’s grandmother telling traditional stories and them affecting Virgil’s arc. Then there’s also Valencia, who is Deaf and has hearing aids, and is constantly struggling with being included in games with kids her age because of her hearing disability. Following these kids really opened up doors that I really hadn’t considered before, and I was looking forward to seeing how they would all come together as friends.
One part of the story that I really struggled with was Chet. I realize he was supposed to be a bully, and that he was supposed to be cruel to Virgil for the story, but I really, really couldn’t stand the repeated use of “r*tard”. There are other words that could have been used, and while I understand the reasoning behind it, it still made me extremely uncomfortable. I was also kind of expecting a redemption arc for Chet, because certain scenes were included that started a redemption arc, or at least started bringing up excuses as to why he acted the way he did. And I really wasn’t the biggest fan of those scenes.
Like I said earlier, this book’s take on friendship was really cute and heartwarming. I loved the small little twists that Kelly included, which made the story that much more compelling because you knew it would have to come up at some point.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
While I really loved this book’s diversity and it’s characters, I really struggled with the attempted, but abandoned, redemption arc that the bully got. I also really disliked the use of “r*tard”, even if I understand the reasoning. That was really the only part that I disliked, while the rest of the book was extremely adorable and cute.
Would I Recommend?
I would definitely recommend it to people looking for a cute, short, middle grade novel about friendship. However, if you’re looking to avoid slurs, skip this one. When I say “r*tard” is used, I mean it’s used a lot.
Published: March 14th, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Page Count: 320
Genre: Middle Grade
Synopsis: via Goodreads
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.