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Clues to the Universe: 01/30/20
Clues to the Universe by Christina Li is a middle grade historical fiction set primarily in Sacramento. Told in alternating points of view it's the tale of two young teens who miss their fathers and connect with them via their hobbies.
Rosalind "Ro" Ling Geraghty is Chinese-Irish-American. Her father instilled in her a love of science and specifically space, space travel, and rockets. They were to build a rocket together when he was killed in a hit and run accident.
Benjamin "Benji" Burns loves comic books: reading them and creating them. Recently he discovered that his missing father is the author of his favorite comic book series.
Ro and Benji team up to complete their projects. Together they will build the rocket and enter it in the science fair. They will also search for clues in the comic books to discover the whereabouts of Benji's father.
Their friendship is real and raw and organic. It grows over the course of the novel after the two accidentally swap folders. This is a friendship in the days before texting and cellphones but there is still bullying, rumors, and other middle school nastiness.
The goal of finding Benji's father puts this novel on the road narrative spectrum. Benji and Ro work initially as a couple (33)(platonic) but later require the help of their families (also 33). The destination, while literally is the father's location, it's metaphorically uhoria (CC) as Benji wants to learn about his father's past and wants a future with him. The route they take is the interstate (00). Clues to the Universe can be summarized as family traveling to uhoria via the interstate (33CC00).