The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

Title: The Weight of the Stars
Author: K. Ancrum
Publication date: 2019

Date started: 11/09/2019
Date finished: 01/10/2019

First sentence: “She woke up to the sound of screaming. She always woke up to the sound of screaming.”
Last sentence: “Wait for me. I’m coming. Pinkie promise.”
Favorite sentence: “’They want the glamour of space and the pretty pictures and the romanticism-‘ ‘They don’t want the danger, and the darkness and loneliness,’ Alexandria interrupted softly. ‘They want the heat and the light, but they don’t want radiation.’”

Summary (spoilers): Ryann Bird is a teenager living with her brother and his mysterious baby since their parents died in an accident. Their rough attitude and punk outfits don’t gain the sympathy of many teachers, but they have a tight knit group of friends (fellow queer punks and general outcasts for the most part) and are working hard to survive. When a new kid, Alexandria, arrives at school, Ryann soon realizes that she’s the daughter of a woman who was sent to deep space exploration, never to return. It had been a scandal when it happened, as the people sent on this mission were not supposed to have strong ties on Earth, and this 17 years old mother gave birth just before leaving… Alexandria lives with her father, and climbs on the roof of their home every evening to try and catch a signal from her mother. A teacher asks Ryann to befriend her, hoping outcasts can understand each others, and Ryann follows this directive by starting to bully Alexandria, hoping that she’ll get her anger out and that they’ll be able to start working together. Unfortunately, one evening Ryann’s group harrasses Alexandria while she’s on her roof, and she ends up falling off of it, breaking her arm in the process… Ryann feels terrible about it, and when she asks Alexandria’s dad what can she do about it, he tells her that she can go to the roof to try and wait for the messages from space. That’s how Ryann starts staying there every day until 1am, and when Alexandria comes back from the hospital, she still needs someone to help her up on the roof, so they start listening to the stars together… Little by little, they start talking. One evening, snow is falling and they share a sleeping bag, a heated blanket and some hot drinks while waiting for a message. Ryann learns that they only have about 10 messages in total because they’re hard to catch, so she looks for better equipment and better signal with her friends and prepares it all for Alexandria. They now have a cozy set up in an old factory that burnt years ago, but it’s still not enough for Ryann, so she decides to break in the company that sent Alexandria’s mother to space to get the voice logs she should have access to. The two girls go there together, but they are found out by security and the CEO comes to see them. He understands who Alexandria is, and offers his deepest apologies, having realized a long time ago that sending a mother to space was an awful mistake. He offers some voice logs from her mother to Alexandria, as well as a spot on the new mission they are creating, almost 20 years after the first one. Ryann and her friends all listen to the voice logs together, and can hear Alexandria’s mother break down but later make her peace with the fact that she’ll be in space until the end of her life. Alexandria offers her space on the mission to Ryann, because she knows she always wanted to go to space, even though the two finally start to admit their feelings for each other… Ryann’s brother and her friends are upset but try to be understanding, and Ryann goes off to space!… Before she left, one friend told her that he would propose to his girlfriend, and she saw that her brother got a new boyfriend, so she knows they will be ok. After 19 years roaming the galaxy, she receives a message from Alexandria: she got 2 PhD so that Nasa would send her on their next mission ; the spaceships are faster now so she’ll be with Ryann in about 3 years, and they’ll even be able to go home together!!!

Opinion: Hum, was this book tailor-written for me? I mean, this is about the badass leader of a queer punk group who’s obsessed with space and falls in love with a girl while they listen to the stars together? Wow?! I loved the characters, I loved how the story developed, slowly but surely, and I loved the themes. The author has a great way of describing things that makes me feel like I’m there. I also loved the diversity in the character cast, various ethnicities, sexualities & religions being casually represented. This was a good roller coaster of emotions, with the main plot being quite unpredictable (unlike many YA novels), and it made me cry a lot. The end was absolutely amazing! This made me feel so good, and I can’t wait to read more books by K. Ancrum!

Bonus sentence: “Love is not about holding people where you want them. It is about doing what’s best for them because you need them to be okay.”

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