A heart-wrenching middle grade debut about Kemi, an aspiring scientist who loves statistics and facts, as she navigates grief and loss at a moment when life as she knows it changes forever.
Eleven-year-old Kemi Carter loves scientific facts, specifically probability. It's how she understands the world and her place in it. Kemi knows her odds of being born were 1 in 5.5 trillion, and that the odds of her having the best family ever were even lower. Yet somehow, Kemi lucked out.
But everything Kemi thought she knew changes when she sees an asteroid hover in the sky, casting a purple haze over her world. Amplus-68 has an 84.7% chance of colliding with earth in four days, and with that collision, Kemi’s life as she knows it will end.
But over the course of the four days, even facts don’t feel true to Kemi anymore. The new town she moved to that was supposed to be “better for her family” isn’t very welcoming. And Amplus-68 is taking over her life, but others are still going to school and eating at their favorite diner like nothing has changed. Is Kemi the only one who feels like the world is ending?
With the days numbered, Kemi decides to put together a time capsule that will capture her family’s truth: how creative her mother is, how inquisitive her little sister can be, and how much Kemi's whole world revolves around her father. But no time capsule can change the truth behind all of it, that Kemi must face the most inevitable and hardest part of life: saying goodbye.---from the publisher
336 pages 978-0063256552 Ages 8-12
Keywords: death and dying, grief, loss, African American and Black stories, asteroid, family, girls, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old
“The sky was all purple
There were people runnin' everywhere
Tryin' to run from the destruction
You know I didn't even care”
– Prince (1982)
“I carefully climbed out from the bed and walked over to the window.
Somehow, I knew before I opened the curtains that everything had changed. That yesterday when it all felt like a dream, when it all could have been a dream, was over. My heart drum-drum-drummed in my chest as I moved the curtains.
I could see it now. AMPLUS-68.
It sat there in the sky, big and round and bright like the sun. Except it was purple and all the light coming from it was purply blue. It felt like the whole world–the trees, the cars on the road, other houses–was slightly tinged with purple.”
Everything changed yesterday. As we learn from eleven-year-old Black aspiring scientist and statistician Kemi Carter, the collision of two asteroids in space altered the trajectory of one of them. The bottom line is that the asteroid AMPLUS-68 is now barrelling toward Earth. Scientists estimate that, in four day’s time, there is a roughly 85 percent chance that it will hit our planet and presumably end human life as we know it.
Holed up with her extended family in her aunt’s home, and desperate to do something before the world ends, Kemi decides to compile a time capsule so that future Earth dwellers or visiting extraterrestrials can access some information about her and the other humans who were here. She encourages her relatives to contribute to the box of mementos designed to tell the story of their family in the days before the end.
“Statistics told us what could or would probably happen in life, but they never told us what definitely would. Statistics could make us feel like we could predict, but really, life just had to happen and then we had to live with it.”
There are amazing twists to this memorable tale. I did my best, and was (mostly) successful at keeping the tears from falling onto the pages of the book. Fearing that I’ll give something away, I’ll stop there and enthusiastically encourage libraries serving tween and younger teen readers to immediately add this moving, jaw-dropping read to their collections.
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA
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