Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2007 Twelve-year-old Theo Perry is wild about all things astronautical, and the combination of the upcoming Voyager 2 mission and a class assignment challenging students to consider what message they would like to send beyond the galaxy should launch him into a state of bliss. The mysteries of space can’t quite rival the mysteries unfolding in his own household, however, as he begins to suspect that his father, whom he’s been led to believe is MIA in Vietnam, had in fact several years ago returned to the United States but not to his family. Moreover, his grandmother JeeBee, the only family member who will speak with any candor about Dad, balks at giving him the whole story and seems to be leading an enigmatic second life of her own. Kerley hooks readers into the drama by alternating chapters of third-person narration with passages in which Theo dictates an introspective tape-recorded message to an unidentified recipient (his father, we learn in the final pages). Unfortunately, the family tension, rife with maternal lies and sibling rancor, is dissipated by the book’s heavy-handed emphasis on the Big Life Lesson Theo learns from his space message assignment, which seems to intrude every time the action picks up momentum. Iain Lawrence’s Gemini Summer (BCCB 12/06) therefore offers a more riveting portrayal of a kid with family issues and a serious space jones, but this may still appeal to readers with a taste for drama at the galactic and domestic levels. EB - Copyright 2007 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2007 Gr 4-7-Theo has been obsessed with the cosmos for as long as he can remember. The year is now 1977, and although he is preoccupied with NASA's upcoming launch of the Voyager 2 space probe, there is something else weighing on his mind. A class assignment to choose the single most important thing about Earth that would help someone from another planet to understand us causes Theo to probe deeply into his innermost thoughts, including some profound questions about his father, who never returned from Vietnam. For the past five years, any attempts at discussion about him have been strongly discouraged. But following his 12th birthday, Theo can no longer quell his desire to know, and he embarks on a quest to learn about his heritage. This compelling and beautifully written story is built around an intriguing historical event and draws an elegant parallel between Voyager's journey and an adolescent's odyssey of self-discovery. Historically accurate and evidently well researched, this novel also offers readers a sensitive, yet honest portrayal of the country's climate during the post-Vietnam War era, and the emotional and psychological harm suffered by returning veterans.-Debbie Lewis O'Donnell, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2007 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2007 As NASA prepares to launch the Voyager 2 space probe in 1977, Theo celebrates his twelfth birthday with his mother, his grandmother, and his big sister. He receives a present that is supposedly from his dad (who left for Vietnam seven years before), though the card is written in his grandmother’s hand. Theo seeks answers to questions about his father, but an unspoken rule at home is Don’t talk about Dad. Ever. In his quest, Theo resorts to conversations with his grandmother, a raid on his mother’s hidden stash of letters, research at the library, and even some gumshoe detective work. The jacket illustration of a boy walking on the moon implies science fiction, but the novel is quite down-to-earth in its exploration of a boy’s sense of loss and his drive to answer fundamental questions. The book has a relatively complex structure, interspersing third-person narrative, first-person reflections in a school report, and letters. Though perhaps more intellectually satisfying than emotionally involving, the novel convincingly portrays a family overshadowed by secrets. - Copyright 2007 Booklist.