We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen is a Young Adult book that targets grades 7 and up. This contemporary story deals with significant social and family issues including grief, a gay parent, peer pressure, stepfamilies, moving, underage drinking, and (almost) date rape.
- The writing is fresh and enjoyable. The story is told in alternating points of view by a 13-year-old boy prodigy and a 14-year-old spoiled fashionista. This is a book both male and female readers can enjoy.
- The stepmother in the story is relatable, not evil. A departure from most blended family stories.
- The author has a great sense of humor and she uses it effectively.
- Many important issues, especially for girls, are developed in this book. While some of the subjects are mature (bigotry, hate crimes, date rape lite), they are introduced in an age-appropriate way.
- The only con is the subject matter. If you are a conservative parent/teacher you may want to reserve this book for older readers. Again, I think this is an important book for any girl to read before she starts dating.
Take advantage of the topics this novel covers to discussion difficult subjects with your young reader in a safe matter. To help you, here are some questions to get you started:
- Which character in the story did you relate to more: Ashley or Stewart? Why?
- Did you feel sorry for Ashley or Stewart? If so, why?
- How would you feel if your parents divorced and your dad lived in your backyard?
- How would you feel if one of your parents told you they were gay?
- How would your life change if one of your parents died?
- Do you know any kids at your school like Steward or Ashley? How do other students treat them? How do you treat them?
- Have you ever been in a situation at school where you’ve been afraid? What did you do?