See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng was an incredibly moving middle-grade novel that you NEED in your life

See You in the Cosmos
Title: See You in the Cosmos
Author: Jack Cheng
Publication: February 28th 2017, Dial Books
Pages: 315 Pages
Source: Thank you to Netgalley for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4.5/5 cupcakes!
A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s, Walk Two Moons, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he'll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng's debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

I received this book to review awhile back from Netgalley but it’s only recently I read (well, listened to) this book. Why didnt I read it sooner? This book is heartfelt and emotional. When I say I love middle-grade novels, it’s books like there. If you love books that tear at your heartstrings and make you feel uplifted and inspired - look no further than this book.

I also want to say that if you have a chance to listen to the audiobook PLEASE DO. It's narrated by a full cast. There are sound effects too! It's literally like hearing the audio of a movie. It makes for an incredible listening experience!

I absolutely adore Alex and it was a privilege to read about a character like him. Eleven years old with an extraordinarily big heart, an abundance of courage, and ridiculously smart too. He’s kind and compassionate and caring and an example to all males, young and old. I loved the way the author captured how responsible and intelligent he is whilst still maintaining the innocence and naivety that is integral to a child. His enthusiasm, compassion, and kindness made him a character you will all adore. 

I loved the other characters too. Zed was an incredible character. He understood Alex and tried to help him as much as possible. I wasn’t completely sold on Steve for a lot of the time but his character definitely grew throughout the novel. I absolutely adored Terra. I loved how she took Alex’s arrival in her stride and looked out for him and loved him. She was a selfless, caring character who I adored. She had her flaws, albeit minor, which made her a realistic character. There was also Ronnie, Alex’s older brother, who I was incredibly frustrated with for the majority of the novel. His neglect of Alex made me furious, but again, he had extraordinary character development.

I also adored Carl Sagan, Alex's dog. He's a precious, sensitive dog and I adored his and Alex's relationship! 

I appreciated the excellent character growth that occurs in this novel. All the characters went through some sort of metamorphosis. It was gradual and it was real. By the end of the book, I felt as if they were all a little bit better than when they started, and I think it was mainly due to the tenacity and tenderness of Alex's personality. 

I think we all know by now that I'm a dog person. I love dogs. They are the most precious creatures on this planet and I wholeheartedly believe doggos make the world a better place. That's why I'm going to mention Alex's relationship with his dog. I think you can tell a lot about a person with how they treat their animals and judging by how Alex takes care of Carl Sagan, you can tell how much he loves him. He even has a special gluten and dairy free diet for him because he has a sensitive digestive system! I loved the friendship between Carl Sagan and Alex, it was adorable.

I loved the relationship between Alex and Terra. I loved how Terra took care of Alex and how she was honest with him about many things. She wasn't always perfect but she tried. I also loved Alex's relationship with his brother Ronnie towards the end of the book. He finally realised the neglect Alex had been through and how that needed to change. Towards the end of the book when I saw the solidarity and care between Ronnie, Terra, and Alex it made my heart burst. 

Alex was such an incredible person towards his mother too. He cooked her meals, made sure she was well-cared for, and tried to understand her as much as possible. He is honestly the sweetest bean and I love him a lot.
See You in the Cosmos is a road-trip book. Alex has built a rocket and is making recordings on his golden iPod to launch into space in the hopes that one day it will be discovered by aliens and enlighten them on life on Earth (one of the reasons why the audiobook works so well). I say I love road-trip books but I haven't actually read that many; I suppose I just really like the concept. Alex travels by himself with Carl Sagan to attend S.H.A.R.F., a festival where he'll be able to launch his rockets among many others. Once he is there, he befriends Zed and Steve. A surprising result from leads him to travelling with Zed and Steve to Las Vegas to find his dad, who he was told died eight years ago. From there on, with his new friends, he travels to several other places until he finally finds his way back home.

I loved the plot. I loved the journey of self-discovery that ensued. I loved the shifting dynamics between the characters and the revelations that dawned on them. I just loved it. 

See You in the Cosmos, although it's a middle-grade, tackled some heavy topics that I wasn't quite expecting. Alex is severely neglected by his mother. It's hinted at that she's severely depressed. Alex refers to her as having "quiet days" and going for "long walks". Alex does all the cooking and he basically has free reign. Towards the end of the novel, it's revealed that his mother has a psychological disorder that I wasn't expecting at all. It was handled with grace and sensitivity. Alex's compassion, love, and care for his mom was so beautiful to read. The negligence from the adult figures in his life was quite tough to swallow at times, though.
I loved the writing. You know those middle-grade novels that are filled with emotion, sentiment, and self-discovery that are ultimately expressed through the honest way in which it's written? See You in the Cosmos is like that. I loved the writing. Alex's voice illuminated the book and warmed my heart. The author perfectly captured the voice of an 11-year-old. He captured the naivety and the hopefulness, the realisations of injustice and the harsh reality of life. It was incredibly done.

See You in the Cosmos is a spectacular novel that clutched at my heartstrings. Written with gentleness, sensitivity, and extraodinary emotion, See You in the Cosmos will be appreciated by anyone with an affinity for the stars, family, friendship, and self-discovery. An exceptionally beautiful middle-grade novel.

I give it: 4.5/5 cupcakes