So here's the thing about books written for kids - sometimes they treat kids like they are stupid. Or ... if not stupid, just lesser, less than. They're too broad: They give you that same uncomfortable feeling that your Dad's jokey best friend always gave you - you knew he was trying to be funny, but the joke missed its mark by a long shot, and yet you were still required to stand there with a grimace-y smile plastered to your face until enough time had passed that it wouldn't be rude if you just walked away? Yeah: like that. Those kind of books make me feel sad for the writer, as if the author has forgotten all about their own childhood - the triumphs and tragedies and joys and jealousies. The fact that sometimes days would pass when you would barely see anyone besides your parents, and other days you would see so many people you thought the world was in your yard. The way that you could sit for hours imagining dolls and dresses and balls, and how one day, long after all your friends had stopped playing with their dolls, you found that they held no appeal for you either, even though you sat for hours, trying to make the magic come back. It's a tough thing, writing childhood true enough that it hits all the right notes for people, without condescending or writing down to them. In my opinion, it's most especially difficult - and most obviously evident - when an author is trying to portray the chaos that is tweenage-hood, early teenage-hood, middle grade fiction fodder. Those years where people expect you to be responsible enough to do your own dishes or get up when the alarm goes off, yet you're still young enough, and dependent enough that you're pretty powerless when it came to making the big decisions that would effect your life.The good news is that Wendy Mass (whose 11 Birthdays I also found this summer) is exceptionally good at writing this kind of book. She manages to capture that weird sense of self-confidence, mixed for the first time with a heavy dose of self-doubt, that is so characteristic of this age group. She writes the flustered adolescents' amazing highs and unbearable lows with the same amount of dignity and respect that any good novelist would use for their adult characters. That's the thing I often find is lacking - people who write books for kids but forget that kids are whole people - not caricatures or flat set pieces you can move about for the advancement of your plot - but whole, actual people, whose thoughts and feelings and actions and reactions are just as vital as those of any adult character - and in a book aimed at an audience of similar readers - even more so than an adult character. And Mass does this brilliantly, as she introduces her three main characters, and takes us through the whole of the story from each of their perspectives. I loved the book, the split perspectives, the changes in voice and tone and thought patterns as the plot evolved. I loved the characters (well, mostly) and the fact that there were 2 girls and a boy, and yet very little in the way of 'love triangle-ing' or 'romantic pondering'. And I loved the science! So much science, and artsy stuff, and random hippy-dom, and being girly and liking to wear makeup: and best of all, none of those things was seen as dumb! Just a side note, in regards to the science portion of the book: I shared part of it with my nephew, in an attempt to interest him in stargazing and total solar eclipses, and the two of us have promised to be in prime viewing position for the next one (8-21-17, if you're interested). He will have his license by then (shoot me now), and we are road tripping it to somewhere with a spectacular view. Anyways, have added Wendy Mass to my Author's I Autobuy shelf, and will be glomming her backlist, (which I am glad to see is quite long). Because she does it right, and there's nothing better than that.