Tethered to other stars

Elisa Stone Leahy

Book - 2023

Seventh grader Wendy Toledo knows that black holes and immigration police have one thing in common: they can both make things disappear without a trace. When her family moves to a new all-American neighborhood, Wendy knows the plan: keep her head down, build a telescope that will win the science fair, and stay on her family's safe orbit. But that's easier said than done when there's a woman hiding out from ICE agents in the church across the alley, and making Wendy's parents very nervous. As bullying at school threatens Wendy's friendships and her hopes for the science fair, and her family's secrets start to unravel, Wendy finds herself caught in the middle of far too many gravitational pulls. When someone she ...loves is detained by ICE, Wendy must find the courage to set her own orbit, and maybe shift the paths of everyone around her.

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New York : Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2023]
Main Author
Elisa Stone Leahy (author)
First edition
Physical Description
313 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Wendy Toledo would like nothing more than to reclaim a fraction of her own mental space, but every inch is filled with worries over being the new kid at school, experiencing casual racism, and potentially being detained by ICE, merely for being Latina. Unfortunately, some of her classmates are bullies, and neither the school's culture of fake equality nor the principal's own dismissive attitude helps to alleviate the toxicity. Wendy, for the most part, keeps it all in and focuses on completing her science-fair project. Even in one of the more severe instances of bullying, the seventh-grader observes from the sidelines, torn between the desire to stay safe and the urge to help. It takes an explosive family secret to rouse her out of her paralysis and finally make her stand up for herself and others. This theme of social activism dovetails with a brief exploration of how vulnerable people may refrain from participation. Leahy's debut, while at times heavy-handed, joins the growing list of fearless middle-grade fiction that trusts its readers' capacity for critical empathy.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

After U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids result in numerous neighbors' deportations, Salvadoran-Guatemalan seventh grader Wendy Celestina Toledo and her family move from Melborn, S.C., to Columbus, Ohio. It's a new start at a new school in a new city; Wendy's parents' number one rule is for Wendy and her older brother to keep their heads down. Still, Wendy is excited for her first day at Leopold Preparatory, a public school for gifted students, and the opportunity to enter the upcoming science fair. At school, she befriends artist Mal, student government hopeful K.K., and enthusiastic Etta, the daughter of the local pastor. Wendy's family isn't adjusting as well: her brother has been behaving recklessly, her mother rarely leaves the house, and both her parents feel uneasy about the woman taking sanctuary from ICE agents in the church next door, afraid that her situation will bring unwanted government attention to their home. When Wendy uncovers a family secret that could change everything, she must find the courage to stand up for what she believes in. Via a propulsive narrative that seamlessly balances typical tween worries with one girl's social justice awakening, debut author Leahy crafts a powerful meditation on the difficult choice between what one views as right vs. safe with resounding empathy and skill. The supporting cast is racially diverse. Ages 8--12. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US. (Oct.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Latine seventh grader Wendy Celestina Toledo loves outer space, but she's worried about things happening right here on Earth. After a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on her community leads to disappearances of several people she knows, including her best friend, Wendy and her Salvadoran-Guatemalan family move to a new neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. Aspiring astronomer Wendy enters a school for gifted and talented students, makes a diverse group of new friends, and sets her sights on building a telescope and winning the science fair. However, with ICE vans patrolling the streets and a woman named Luz claiming sanctuary in the church down the street, her parents are fearful. Not only are Wendy and her friends enduring racist bullying at school, but someone Wendy loves is seriously threatened, and she must tap into her own inner resources to do what's right for herself and those she cares for. The stakes start out high but manage to continue to build throughout the story, culminating in an unexpected plot twist. Heavy topics like bullying, familial hardship, and academic pressures are explored in ways middle-grade readers will understand and are grounded in well-rounded characterization. Readers will resonate with the characters' three-dimensional personalities regardless of their and their families' own immigration experiences. A beautifully executed, character-driven tale of family, courage, resilience, and the meaning of what is right. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.