Monday, May 30, 2016

All the Major Constellations by Pratima Cranse - NO

Cranse, Pratima All the Major Constellations 316 pages. Viking Penguin Random House 2015. $17.99.  Language:  R (100+ swears, 60 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: R.

Andrew’s two best friends couldn’t be more different – Marcia is seriously smart and shy, and Sara is gorgeous, flirtatious, and hardworking - but the three of them have been inseparable all through high school.  A week before their graduation in 1995, Sara is severely injured in a car accident, prompting Marcia to attend to her full-time in the hospital, and causing Andrew to withdraw in uncertainty.  Andrew’s long-time romantic obsession, Laura, invites him to join her fundamentalist church youth group after she hears of the accident, and though Andrew doesn’t believe in God, he decides to go so he can get close to her.  Is the comfort he is feeling a sign from above?

I wish this book had done better justice to the religious questioning and exploration that is common to many teens.  This book is all over the place, lacking balance between Andrew’s moments of inquiry about religious belief and his mockery of it.  He gets a distant view of Laura’s harmonious family life (a stark contrast to his own), but does he interpret this as false in the end because of how their church “counsels” one of their homosexual members?  Nothing is treated adequately, not the critical situation of his friend, not Andrew’s haphazard soul-searching, not the supporting characters and personalities, and definitely not the meaningless sexual encounter (for which there are zero consequences).  Rated R for foul language and behavior, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, with few satisfying resolutions to all that is thrown at us, this book does not present a meaningful whole for the reader.

HS – NOT RECOMMENDED.  Reviewed by JA, High School Librarian

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