Written by Jenny McLachlan
Publishing June 1st 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.
And Mum's disappearance has come at the worst time. Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She'll need a miracle of cosmic proportions.
Just as the forty nine accomplished women have boldly gone, sixteen year old Meg Clark dreams of becoming an astronaut. A quiet achiever, Meg is attempting to revise her lecture for the upcoming competition that will see one student be awarded with an all expenses paid holiday to the NASA Space Center in Houston, an opportunity that Meg's mother couldn't otherwise afford.
Until her mother purchases a plane ticket to Myanmar on a whim and leaves Meg and one year old Elsa behind. Alone.
Fifteen year old Megara is an aspiring astronaut and in the midst of preparing for her presentation, an opportunity for an all expenses paid vacation to NASA headquarters, when her free spirited mother leaves for Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country where she will aid underprivileged communities. Her mother also leaves behind Elsa, an infant who cannot comprehend where her mother is and expects her elderly father to shoulder the burden of two children.
Rather than place Elsa in the dangerous environment of her grandfathers home, Meg decides to become Elsa's primary caregiver while balancing school and preparation for her presentation. Meg's mother was infuriating and left me feeling irate. Free spirited is for those without obligations, her mother has two young children and an elderly father who excuses his daughter's behaviour. Although her grandfather is reluctantly accommodating, his home resembles an unhygienic menagerie and refuses to inconvenience himself for his young granddaughters. Her grandfather is lovely, but why would any responsible adult allow a fifteen year old girl to accept responsibility for an infant sibling.
Being a preoccupied adolescent consumed by science, Meg and step sister Elsa are relatively strangers, sharing the same irresponsible mother and little else of significance. Through circumstances, the two sisters begin to care for one another. It was wonderful to see Meg being supported by new and unlikely friends in her mentoring program, especially sarcastic and resolute Annie who is a student with Autism. A friendly rivalry and gentle friendship were the foundation of an enchanting romance.
Although it was lovely and incredibly entertaining, the adult characters within Stargazing For Beginners were irresponsible. From their mother and grandfather, to the caregiver at Elsa's daycare center who suspected their mother may have been absent. How did the school facility not realise the change in her behaviour? The responsible and astute student now unpolished and exasperated has gone unnoticed.
Jenny McLachlan is a magnificent author, a wonderful storyteller and an absolute delight. Amusing, entertaining and incredibly charismatic.