Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass

I often feel sorry for people who don’t read good books;
they are missing a chance to lead an extra life.
                                                ~ Scott Corbett ~

When I think about why my favorite books are my favorites, Scott Corbett’s sentiments ring true. So many of them involve real-life places I’ve never been or fantasy worlds that I long to visit.  And some introduce me to worlds that I haven’t known well but suddenly find myself wanting to explore.  Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (Little, Brown, October 1, 2008) is one of those books.

The book is set at the Moon Shadow Campground in the days surrounding a total solar eclipse, and three narrators tell the story of how their paths converge there, just as the moon’s shadow crosses the sun. There’s Ally, a self-confident, home-schooled kid who has grown up at the Moon Shadow, spending her time searching for alien signals and arranging rocks in the campground labyrinth.  There’s Bree, firmly entrenched in the life of an urban middle school social butterfly until her parents drop the bomb that she’s moving to the middle of nowhere so they can work on a research project.  And there’s Jack, who flunked science class and is sentenced to a summer project at the Moon Shadow with his teacher.  Often, when I read a novel with multiple narrators I end up liking one better than the others and wishing the whole book were written in that voice, but that wasn’t the case here; every voice was distinct and every character so well-developed that I loved them as individuals and felt like I cared about each of their stories.

As a middle school teacher, I always get extra excited about titles that connect to the curriculum and still maintain the rich characters, plot twists, humor, and tension that keep kids reading on their own.  Every Soul a Star is loaded with astronomy, presented in a way that’s accessible and compelling. It made me want to spend more time looking up at the night sky, and I found myself googling the time and location of the next total solar eclipse because this book convinced me this is something I need to see.  Every Soul a Star is a perfect choice for middle school teams connecting English and Science classes, but it’s also a terrific character-driven journey to the stars that kids will enjoy on their own.

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