At the Edge of the Universe

Any breakup can make a person feel like the world has just ended, but high school senior Ozzie Pinkerton of Florida feels even worse: as far as the universe is concerned, his ex-boyfriend Tommy never existed.

His friends and family won't talk to him about Tommy because they have no memory of him. Ozzie is determined to find him, but there are complications. He starts crushing on the smart, mysterious Calvin and wonders whether he can cheat on someone who never existed. His parents' marriage is over, but they all still share a house, and his brother is about to leave for the military. It's no wonder he feels like the world is closing in on him, but--oh, wait--that's happening, too. When Ozzie realizes the universe literally is shrinking every day, he starts to wonder if the universe is trying to tell him something, and if so, what the heck it could be.

While Shaun David Hutchinson (We Are the Ants) is a master of fusing the bizarre with the mundane, and the plot is delightfully constructed, it is Ozzie's pained, sardonic voice that steals the spotlight. Hutchinson's authentic characters, exploring their gender and sexuality with equal parts confusion and confidence, will resonate with many teens who no longer see their identity as binary or unchanging. Ozzie's story may be fantastical, but its emotional honesty renders the whole complicated story believable, and readers will flock to its central truths. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

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