Title: PLANET EARTH IS BLUE
Author: Nicole Panteleakos
Pub. Date: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD
“Tender and illuminating. A beautiful debut.” –Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me
A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.
Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger–it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.
While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can’t express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”
Planet Earth is Blue is a book about a twelve-year-old girl named Nova. She is autistic and nonverbal, but her sister Bridget always described her as “a thinker not a talker.” She loves her older sister, her sister always protected her in all of the foster homes that they had been in over the years. Her sister made sure that Nova knew that they would always have each other, even if they weren’t able to find a permanent home to stay in. Bridget would always talk to Nova about space, and she even took Nova into space a few times! They were both looking forward to the Challenger launch. Even though Bridget has been temporarily separated from Nova, she promised Nova that they would be reunited in time for the launch. Now, Nova has to spend time in a new foster home by herself, and she is counting down the days to the launch when she will see her sister again.
This book places the reader into the shoes of a severely autistic girl. She is not “retarded,” even though characters in this book may call her that. This is the 80s, they don’t understand her, so they just placed her into a box. Her new foster mother is starting to understand this. She’s starting to understand that her new daughter is more capable than her social workers and former teachers believed her to be. Bridget knew that her sister was more capable, but no one paid attention to a young girl in foster care. Nova doesn’t know who truly has her best interests at heart anymore. Her sister has left, and her new mother seems nice. But other new mothers have seemed nice before and still sent them on their way.
My favorite part of this book was hearing about Nova going to school. It wasn’t my favorite because it was the happiest part of the book, but it was my favorite because it was the most realistic and relatable, even though this book took place in the 1980s. I had never truly thought about how public school must be for someone who has autism until I personally met someone who was autistic and in a Special Education program. Although she attended one of the best schools in our state, the Special Ed program was a mess of teachers who didn’t want to teach and students who were just trying their best to learn. Even though some teachers think that the kids are able to actually take classes, others believe that the students should just play games all day. Nova wants to be able to have chapter books read to her, like her sister used to do. When she is in school, sometimes her time is just wasted when teachers want her to point out colors or play little games. She seems like she isn’t getting the answers right, but she knows the answers. Sometimes the noise of the room and the building are just too much and she mishears the question. I was rooting for Nova to succeed in school the entire time, and I love how the author shows that the kids would befriend one another and protect one another in the school.
Usually for books I also have a least favorite part of the novel, but I literally have nothing to complain about with this book. Nicole weaves Nova’s past and present to give you a complete look at this little girl’s life. You may go from a scene where Nova is struggling in school to learning about her birth mother to learning about her former foster homes. I read this book all in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down. I had to know more about this girl’s life, and I had to know if she would succeed.
This entire story just truly touched me. I even cried at the end, and I very rarely cry when I read novels! This book is perfect for YA readers and adult readers alike. I wish that there was a sequel to this novel, to see what happens as Nova grows up. For now, I am so glad that I got the chance to meet her.
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books
Nicole Panteleakos is an author, playwright, thespian, and Ravenclaw. Her debut novel PLANET EARTH IS BLUE (Wendy Lamb Books, Penguin Random House) will be out in bookstores nationwide on May 14, 2019, with a second middle grade novel to follow in 2020. She is represented by agent Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates and belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: Metro NY. She is also a Lifetime Member of the VFW Auxiliary and National Home for Children, a godmother of three, and a regular contributor to Nanny Magazine. When not writing, she can usually be found reading fanfiction, playing board games, doing community theatre, or adding to her Alice in Wonderland coffee cup collection.
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3 winners will receive a finished copy of PLANET EARTH IS BLUE, US Only.
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