By Sara Aslagson-Sahar
“This is not how I wanted my wish to come true. This is not how I would have chosen to become a quadrangle. I would far, far rather still be a triangle if it meant that my mom was alive. But since that it a scientific impossibility, I am trying to look on the bright side.
I have always wanted a sister.
And I’m about to get one.” -Stewart
Stewart: a smart and socially underdeveloped boy. Ashley: a popular girl determined to remain on the highest rung. Thrust together under one roof due to their parent’s romantic attraction and decision to move in together. This story could have potentially gone wrong in many ways if it just stuck to stereotypes and nothing else, but this book did better than I expected. I picked, We Are All Made of Molecules, because I was curious where Susin Nielsen would take the story. Nielsen wrote a multiple viewpoint novel, meaning that the book switches between Stewart and Ashley’s first person narration.
Stewart’s character is academically gifted, funny, and does not understand all social cues. He explains that he chose to change to the public school closer to his new home in order to “work on his ungifted parts”, his social skills. Ashley is his new, not quite, stepsister because their parents aren’t actually married. Ashley is arrogant and highly frustrated with the fact that her once perfect life is continuing to fall apart around her. Leaving Ashley clinging to the social ladder and trying not to let out any of her secrets.
After about the third time the story switched to Ashley’s point of view, I really disliked her, I wanted her to stop being bratty and mean. By the end of the book, Ashley had undergone character development and I applauded her final choices.
I loved Stewart from the beginning because he is brilliant and ahead of the intellectual power curve, while still being adorable and genuine. Nielsen did not fall into the literary trope of making him a social outcast who’s elevated intellect made it difficult for him to communicate with others. His brilliance did not make his social skills up to par, but they were credible. Stewart’s mother and father definitely raised him to be a stand up human being. Even when that meant standing up to people twice his size who had previously tried to fight him.
This book covers the topics of finding out that a parent is gay and how to cope with the death of a parent. It addresses the fact that real issues do happen for teenagers in this changing world and sometimes time does help fix these issues. The book deals with the complications of a combined family and handling one family moving in to join a house that used to be exclusively another family’s, and making the relationship work. As someone who has a stepparent, this book gave me some more insight into my own feelings regarding my stepparent moving in. It also touched on why it really is a good idea to have the combined family find a new home and not live in a home that was originally “their” or “our” home.
I would like to give a trigger warning to anyone interested in reading the book because there are two sexually graphic and attempted rape scenes. These are difficult scenes and I do not want any readers to be surprised by this.
Overall, I enjoyed We Are All Made of Molecules and would recommend it. If you are looking to read it and it is not available at your library, you can buy it on Amazon here. If you are interested in learning more about Susin Nielsen, including her blog, appearances and other books you can check out her website here.
Here are some resources for sexual violence, bullying, and tips on what to do when you find out someone is LGBT.
*RAINN’s website has a very helpful button on the bottom if you need to exit the website immediately.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE(4673)
Stop Bullying.gov: http://www.stopbullying.gov/index.html