Gay romance goes interstellar in this quirky coming-of-age tale.
After extensive experience as a social media reporter, high school student Cal, an aspiring journalist, has his dream internship with Buzzfeed tantalizingly within reach. Meanwhile, his father, a commercial pilot, applied to become an astronaut for an upcoming NASA mission to Mars, but the chances of being chosen are one in a million...and then it happens. Suddenly, Cal’s life is turned upside down, and he finds himself ensconced in a Houston, Texas, suburb far away from his beloved Brooklyn neighborhood and best friend, Deb. Surrounded by picture-perfect NASA families, Cal worries that he and his parents are outclassed and out of their depth, especially since being part of a space-themed reality television show called Shooting Stars is part of the deal. When Cal meets Leon, a handsome brown-skinned gymnast and fellow astronaut’s son, he begins to hope that this unexpected journey might be a new beginning. In his debut novel, Stamper crafts a sweet fish-out-of-water tale that also shrewdly explores the intersection between social class and modern media culture. Cal’s mother’s anxiety issues and the arguments over how much is too much to sacrifice for one man’s dream humanize the story and help demonstrate the sharp divide between the life shown on camera and the one lived offscreen. Cal and his family are white.
A charming and satisfying first novel. (Romance. 13-18)