What Goes Up

Rosa Hayashi is a "science princess" from New Mexico whose parents expect great things of her. Eddie Toivonen is from Oolitic, Indiana, and doesn't have the luxury of living with parents; the only one he has is a jailbird. Eddie and Rosa are among 200 brainiac high schoolers who have traveled to Iowa to compete for two trainee spots at a NASA space agency. Both want to succeed, but Eddie must do so: "It was either exploring the cosmos for the Interworlds Agency or handing people fries back in Oolitic."

The competition is a mind-and-body workout that requires defusing a live (well, sort of) bomb and free-associating about the physical laws of the universe while in a plummeting elevator. Then comes an unplanned challenge: the Interworlds Agency's scientists perceive a gravitational anomaly, and Rosa and Eddie must travel to a parallel Earth in order to save the real one.

Katie Kennedy (Learning to Swear in America) has invented a young cast so sympathetic and disarmingly funny that even science-indifferent readers will resolve to understand the laws of physics and other geeky topics of conversation that come up alongside more typical teen concerns. What Goes Up isn't so much about what's out there as about what's down here: the miracle of unlikely friendships, the mixed blessing of privilege and the stigma of social class. As Rosa says to Eddie, "How do we know who we are under the weight of all the expectations?" --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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