The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy, by Mary Winn Heider

When I first read the title, I thought The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy, by Mary Winn Heider (middle grade, Little Brown, March 2021), might have a touch of sci fi to it.  It almost did, but not in the way I was expecting.  The center of the galaxy, as far as the two main characters are concerned, is not deep space, but a football stadium.  There their father was the quarterback for a pro-team, the Chicago Horribles, failing for years to lead them to victory before retiring with traumatic brain injury.  He's no longer the father they remembered from when they were young; now he needs their care.  But then he takes leaving one step further, by simply walking out and disappearing one day.  

Winston and Louise, his two kids, are left with no answers, and lots of grief.  Winston distracts himself by fiercely committing to tuba playing in the school band.  Louise, something of a genius, seeks a cure for TBI by plunging into science.  Their lives start getting a bit odd, what with an actual bear being used for the team's new mascot (Louise becomes determined to save it), Louise's experiments with jellyfish leaving her glowing (this is the touch of sci fi I mentioned above), and the teachers apparently plotting something peculiar that leads to a tuba catastrophe.  It all cumulates with a giant popstar halftime concert with the one and only Kittytown Dynamo....and all this oddness moves them closer to healing and closure.

This is a book that deals with serious issues, while at the same time being warm and friendly as all get out.  There are no mean girls, for instance, of the sort that often plague middle grade protagonists.  Instead Louise shares science club with a group of girls who continuously offer friendship, and Winston shares tuba playing with another girl who's really nice and supportive.  I loved the tuba playing, the mad science, and the giant Kitty concert made laugh out loud--it is hilarious!  The plight of the bear will pull hard at kids who care about animals, and the plight of Winson and Louise's family tugs at the heartstrings of readers of all ages.  

short answer--a book I truly enjoyed!

(disclaimer--review copy received from the publisher)

1 comment:

  1. I probably would have walked right by this one. The title just didn't do anything for me, but after reading your review, I am very interesting in reading the book. Thanks for the post.


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