All Alone in the Universe was last modified: January 19th, 2015 by Jenny Sawyer
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Posted on by Jenny Sawyer
Title: The Hired Girl
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Title: Bellweather Rhapsody
Author: Kate Racculia
Author: Lynne Rae Perkins
Genre: Fiction (Middle School/YA)
Year published: 1999
Debbie and Maureen have been friends since third grade. But now Maureen is friends with Glenna, so that makes Debbie, well, all alone in the universe to be exact.
Lynne Rae Perkins’s slim novel doesn’t offer up any pat (or easy) answers to the question, What do you do when you get dumped by your best friend? But it does offer one of the most honest and relatable explorations of surviving middle school cattiness and of living through the bad (and good) parts of growing apart and growing up.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been ditched by a friend. Raise your hand if the ditching feels even worse if you’re immediately replaced by someone new. Then you’ll relate to Debbie. She’s the friend who was left behind … in All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins.
I’ll put this right out there: I’m in love with All Alone in the Universe: It’s among my top ten favorite books of all time. It may be the greatest book you’ve never heard of.
All Alone in the Universe is a great book because it deals with something familiar–the friendship that must grow or break–in a fresh and lovely way.
In clumsier hands, Debbie’s story might come off as a whiner’s tale. In Perkins’ hands, Debbie’s story explores a feeling many readers will find they’ve experienced at one point or another: Yes, Debbie knows she fits in…somewhere, but she just doesn’t quite know where.
Perkins’ light, evocative prose conjures Debbie’s world with immediacy and resonance. Perkins’ pen-and-ink drawings–she’s an illustrator as well as a writer–match the piquancy of her words. She uses her doubled-barreled talents as writer and artist to transform Debbie’s serial fumblings into a series of exquisite miniature paintings: You leave each with a palpable sense of the captured beauty of that moment. The cumulative effect is breathtaking.
I may have read All Alone in the Universe 20 times. You should read it at least once.