Audrey Alcott's ability to sense a lie had always made things awkward with peers. So when her best friend lied to her, she was inconsolable and felt totally alone. Need a fact? Aaron Archer is your man. Except when it comes to "feeling" something. Just ask his now former Quiz Masters teammates.
Convinced their personalities will keep them from ever having friends, Audrey and Aaron have resigned themselves to a lonely life. Their parents think differently, and enroll them at el Viaje a la Confianza, a 6-week intensive Wilderness camp. With only maps, compasses, and the sky to help them, Audrey and Aaron are part of a group of 8 middle school kids heading into the Texas desert with a former pro Football player as their guide. When they arrived at camp, the teens were absorbed in their own issues. Before long, though, alliances form, and as events unfold, they begin to realize that a quirk can sometimes be an ability and that friendship has its own personality, too.
I loved reading this! Audrey and Aaron aren't the only authentic characters. Kids will see themselves or peers in Kevin and Daphne (bullies), Louis (anxiety), and Kate (grieving over her grandmother). I was surprised when I saw that Connect the Stars is science fiction. It seems very realistic, which is what brings me to my one nit with the book: Jare, the group leader. I get that this is fiction and what happens is part of the story [no spoiler]. Even so, his behavior created a perception that didn't sit well with me. I am very familiar with Wilderness camps. They are staffed by professionals, including youth counselors. His character poorly represents not only the kind of work they do, but some of the 'treatment' as well.
Through their narration, Audrey and Aaron take readers out to the desert and into their hearts. A perfect read for middle schoolers struggling to figure out who they are and how they fit in.
A sophisticated, well-written novel that will engage readers into high school [high interest / low readability].
An exceptional choice for youth book clubs! From the general themes of teen issues to more nuanced topics (death, abandonment, anger) there is a lot to explore. What did Audrey, Aaron and their campmates have in common at the beginning of the book? How did that change? Did they change? If so, what motivated the change.
10 and Up
9 and Up
Buy. This is a very special book. Thought-provoking in a way that meets preteens and teens where they are.