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One Giant Leap

Parents often promise that everything will be ok, but there are times when that is not always true. Finley Scott knows that reality all too well, and as his parents are spending nearly all their time in the hospital following his mom's accident, Fin is left mostly on his own with his "funcle" Dennis nearby. Luckily, Fin is drawn to the complexities of space travel, and one life changing contest has consumed much of his attention. When Fin learns he is one of four kids chosen to bring his design to space in order to test the prototype himself, he sees it as the perfect escape from the difficult realities he faces at home. Far from Earth, with the expanse of space at his fingertips, Fin is faced with very real–and life threatening–challenges that force him to put everything in perspective in the most memorable of ways.

At only twelve and a half years old, Fin demonstrates both intelligence and bravery well beyond his years. The events of the novel force Fin and his youthful companions to constantly think outside the box and problem solve their way out of life threatening situations, often without the assistance of adults nearby. These moments celebrate the potential found in every child that is not always given the chance to flourish. An assortment of bright and compelling characters surround Fin on his journey, and the interactions among them are both believable and heartfelt. Interestingly, Fin does most of his storytelling as a recounting told directly to the reader, which effectively breaks the fourth wall and draws readers immediately into Fin's reality. Alongside this, myriad action sequences keep readers on the edges of their seats while moments of true emotion and self-realization anchor the story in the complicated realities of adolescence.

This middle grade novel is perfect for readers who are interested in space travel and exploration. Diligently researched, this book incorporates a plethora of facts and details that are sure to satisfy STEM enthusiasts of all ages. Nearly every scene is punctuated by rich descriptions that incorporate specific scientific terminology, which is not often found in stories for this age group. At the end of the book, readers are presented with a note that differentiates fact from fiction as well as the creative liberties taken to craft Fin's story. There is also a glossary that explains even more of the potentially unfamiliar vocabulary utilized within the narrative. While everything in the book may not be completely true to life, any alterations have been made with care and serve to enhance the readability of the novel. This is an excellent, STEM-focused narrative that will inspire middle grade readers to think beyond what currently exists to envision the myriad possibilities of what could one day be.

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