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The Weight of the Stars: 09/30/19
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum is a YA science fiction romance. The set up reminds me of the anime short Voices of a Distant Star (ほしのこえ) (2002). This time, though, it's a female/female romance with a slow burn between narrator Ryann Bird, the orphan daughter of NASA scientists, and Alexandria, the daughter of a woman on a oneway trip into space for a private space company.
Ryann Bird lives in a trailer park with her selectively mute brother, James, and a baby he brought home one day, Charlie. Her duties as the caregiver have put her life on hold and has made going to school and doing homework difficult.
Ryann, though, has a teacher who has a soft spot for her. She asks her to befriend the new girl, Alexandria. She and her father have moved to this sleepy town to get away from the rumor mill regarding her status as the SCOUT baby. Her mother is on a ship with other carefully selected women, chosen as teenagers, and her father was an intern at the time.
Ryann and Alexandria, and Ryann's extended group of misfit friends, bond over the messages she's waiting for. Her mother's ship sends transmissions back to Earth and Alexandria stays up late each night hoping to record them. That is until she falls off the roof. Ryann, who misses her parents, knows that recording these transmissions, if they come through, is important. It's her way of befriending Alexandria.
In the background of the majority of this book is SCOUT, a privately run space exploration company. They are keeping information from Alexandria. They aren't, though, the big bad corporation, even though they sit in that position narrationally. They are a small, overwhelmed, poorly run company with lofty goals. In this regard, they remind me of another space themed anime, Rocket Girls (ロケットガール ) (2007).
The growing relationship between Ryann and Alexandria is framed in road narrative tropes. Ryann and Alexandria become a couple (33) before their journey will begin. The destination is the wildlands (99) of space. But Ryann and Alexandria will be taking different ways there. Alexandria will be abandoned a second time as Ryann is picked by SCOUT. That should be the end, but there is also NASA, who still works by slower, more precise methods, including expecting their astronauts to be highly educated. The route is of course offroad (66) as their journeys are through space. Put all together, the this romance ultimately about a couple traveling through the wildlands via an offroad route, to hopefully reunite.