Stargazing For Beginners, is the latest novel from Jenny McLachlan. Combining elements of astronomy, physics, love, friendship and chaotic families - it's a delightful novel with much to offer.
Science-mad Meg is a great character. Since her best friend moved away, she feels very much isolated at school - but that's ok, because her main focus is on Space. She knows it's a long shot, but her ultimate ambition... is to be become an astronaut. She doesn't need friends to achieve that.
As a reader we really feel for Meg when, at the beginning of the novel, her mum just ups and leaves... heading abroad on a whim to follow up on one of her 'Big Important Causes'.
'This is why I want to go to be an astronaut: life on Earth is way too complicated.'
With no Dad in the picture, and a rather chaotic and unpredictable Granddad Meg is left caring for her baby sister Elsa, whilst juggling school work and making sure no one spots what's going on... and there is that all important competition looming. The one with a dream prize of a trip to Houston - but how can Meg prepare for it now?
An interesting layer of the plot comes from the Biscuit Club at school, set up by Mr Curtis for those intelligent students in the school who socially, are on the outside. Here we are introduced to some great characters including Rose, and Annie who are foils of each other. Annie is outspoken, direct and honest, a very likeable character. Her Cerebral Palsy is referenced, but isn't used to define her character.
Meg must learn to trust those around her, but it's a bumpy ride - with the reader feeling all the bumps with Meg, thanks to McLachlan's sensitive and engrossing portrayal.
An engrossing read, with an addictive feel-good tone, Stargazing For Beginners is a wonderful read.