Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

From Goodreads: Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they - like everyone else - are made of molecules.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Using the themes of death and divorce, Susin Nielsen’s We Are All Made of Molecules explores how families can change and adapt. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the book was tempered by: 1) the character of Ashley and 2) the use of rape as a plot device.

Told from the alternating points of Stewart and Ashley, We Are All Made of Molecules chronicles what happens when two families decide to merge. Although I thought both Stewart and Ashley seemed very stereotypical, Stewart was at least a pretty decent character. Ashley, on the other hand, was not only mean and constantly putting others down, but Nielsen chose to highlight that Ashley wasn’t as smart as Stewart by having Ashley continually mix up words (e.g. using unconstipated instead of emancipated, etc.). This drove me crazy!

Another issue that I had with We Are All Made of Molecules was that Ashley wasn’t almost raped once but twice in the book - just so that she could experience some character growth! Also, nobody experienced any major consequences in the aftermath of either situation. It’s just too bad that a topic like rape was used as a plot device, and wasn’t handled more sensitively.

We Are All Made of Molecules will be released by Tundra Books on May 12, 2015. 

Comments About the Cover: Though I like its colourfulness, I don’t think it really matches the title of the novel.  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House of Canada Limited) for free via NetGalley.


  1. What a frustrating read, Z! I'm so glad that I took a pass on this one. Using rape as a plot device is not only wrong but it makes this horrific incident like a joke.

  2. I really don't like the idea of how this book uses rape as a plot device. That's strange that it seems they also used it to get Ashley to grow as a character.
    Thanks for the review!

  3. Ugh, rape as a plot device is a dealbreaker for me too, so that pretty much means that I'll skip this one. Also, a character like Ashley would ruin things for me as well.

  4. Oh that's too bad! I've only read one of hers before (The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larson) but I really loved that one. It had a perfect blend of serious content and light-hearted humour - too bad the same can't be said for this one.


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