What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Natasha Forrester of Multnomah County Library.
“If you knew the world was going to end, but you had the power to stop it, would you?” That’s a pretty powerful question. But the answer isn’t obvious to Henry. His dad abandoned the family, and his mom is trying to hold it together. His grandma lives with them, but she’s got dementia and is slowly losing her memories. His brother is a lazy jerk with no real goals. His boyfriend committed suicide last year, and Henry really doesn’t understand why. He’s being bullied by some of the popular guys, who call him “Space Boy” because he gets abducted by aliens occasionally, the same aliens who told Henry the world is ending in 144 days unless he pushes a button to prevent it. Did I forget to mention that part? But this isn’t an aliens book, or a scifi book, and we never meet E.T. If I had to give a quick summary of the basic message of this book, it would be this: Everyone is screwed up in some way. The best you can do is try to deal with it and let other people help.
I would recommend this to someone who is looking for caustic humor or for an occasionally heart-rending protagonist, particularly a reader who really wants to get into the narrator’s POV. And it’s especially recommended to anyone looking for LGTBQIA characters who aren’t closeted or ashamed of their sexuality, but struggle with how others deal with coming out. Give it to fans of A.S. King, Andrew Smith, E. Lockhart, or David Levithan, and they’ll come back looking for more.