My son and I were enjoying See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng when somewhere towards the second half of the novel about a precocious boy wanting to send his Golden iPod to space on a rocket suddenly took a turn that surprised us both. I won’t give it away, except to say that the book, already enjoyable as a read-aloud, went deeper still as Cheng’s protagonist, Alex, learns more about life than we would have expected.
The novel is told mostly in the voice of Alex, an 11-year-old who narrates his world into the voice recorder of the Golden iPod, which he hopes to send into space on a rocket he intends to build, in order to emulate his hero, Carl Sagan (also the name of his dog). References to Carl Sagan (the scientist) and the movie, Contact, abound.
Alex hopes whatever life in space finds his iPod will come to understand the Human Race. Meanwhile, listening in, we come to understand Alex, and the constellation of his family (both known and unknown), and the way that time and space fold in on us in strange and unexpected ways. Alex is an innocent but attentive observer of the world.
See You in the Cosmos a beautiful book, full of voice and compassion and complexity. You’ll cheer Alex on, and wonder if maybe we, the readers, aren’t the very life forms he is writing to, reading the transcripts of his life, in order to understand the beings on Planet Earth.
Peace (here and there and beyond),