Thursday 5 May 2022

Home: My Life in the Universe by Mark Ballabon. Teenage / Young Adult Book Review (sent for review)

Home: My Life In The Universe is written by Mark Ballabon, with illustrations by Grant Macdonald. It is suitable for teenage and young adult readers aged around 12+, and is a book which really does make you think about what home is, and where it is...?

The story focusses on Leah, a teenage girl who is growing into the adult she'll become. It is a coming-of-age tale, with the climate crisis and our place in the universe right at its heart. 

Book cover showing young woman standing at night in a field of grass under the stars

Leah is an 'ordinary' teenager, and she's unique, just like every teenager. She feels she is weird and different, yet really plain, and she's okay with individuality to a point, but she wants to fit in, and she wants to be liked, but she doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being plain. She also wants to try new experiences and push herself out of her comfort zone, which she does when, together with her younger brother, she goes away to spend 3 weeks at an international camp over Summer. It's there that she meets people who test her patience and her mood, and others who encourage her to understand that we all have a backstory - reasons why we act as we do. 

Throughout the book Leah questions "what is home?", and she realises it is many things - it's the building where we spend most of our time, the local place where we live, and the world we stand on, and each have to be looked after and protected.

The story is broken into "Windows" rather than chapters, which works well, as each section is a window into another part of the story, a section of Leah's world, or someone else's. It also continues the theme of 'Home'. 

Blurred image of a young girl running away from us into woodland

The writing is really quite beautiful, and we are told at the beginning it should be read carefully and without rush, and you naturally read that way. It's actually quite calm, and every word very deliberate. There are a lot of messages in the book, and they speak very clearly to the reader. We learn very early on:
"Understanding other people depends on how much you understand yourself. Every single relationship you build with other people depends on your relationship with yourself."

Leah is beginning to find "herself" and who she is, and although she feels she isn't special at the beginning of the story, by the end she is in no doubt. It's an empowering message to a young adult reader, and one which takes a while to sink in. 

Each new 'Window' has an accompanying illustration which is an insight into Leah's mind, and the beautiful flowing painted images really do match her thoughts at that time. The things which strike her as most important and fill her head.

Text example climate change and finding yourself your own place in the universe

Despite some mentions of universal power and eclectic unknown energy, Home: My Life In The Universe is not soppy or romantic, and it doesn't sit in the clouds. It has arguments and squabbles, difference of opinion, misunderstanding, but it also has apologies, insight and compassion. It's a great story and a great book, and one which offers a lot to anyone, but maybe especially young people who are finding their own way, and building their own confidence to become the adult they want to be. 

Home: My Life In The Universe is the first book in a YA trilogy by Philosopher, environmentalist and author, Mark Ballabon. Illustrated by Grant Macdonald and published by Eminent.Paperback, 300 pages. Available to buy now priced £9.99rrp from all good bookshops, including online at Amazon (affiliate link). 

We were sent our copy of Home, My Life In The Universe for review. Amazon links are affiliate, which means I earn a few pence if you buy through my link, but you never pay a penny more - I don't charge a fee for book reviews and affiliates help keep the website running. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one and try my best to reply!