Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

The Universe Versus Alex Woods
Gavin Extence
Redhook Books
Hachette Book Group
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-316-24657-6
$ 26.00
401 pages

Are come people born with everything against them? If some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, it makes logically sense then that some people are just born with more challenges than most other people. What makes the difference between those born with this burden is whether they choose to allow these setbacks to become part of their life or whether they choose to literally make lemonade from the lemons that life has given them.

Alex is seventeen years old and being held by custom's officials. He was driving a vehicle with 113 grams of marijuana and an urn with the ashes of a recently deceased neighbor. Why?

Alex Woods started out with a normal childhood with being the only child of a single parent mother. However, that is where ordinary ends. His mother is a fortune teller and has even been considered to be a witch.

When Alex was ten years old, a meteorite crashed through his house hitting him on the head, putting him in a coma for two weeks. It almost appeared as if the meteorite had aimed for Alex. The advantage of this event was the contact with a real astronomer who wanted it to study for science. This meeting turned into a friendship. The attention did not help Alex with his peers at school and he quickly discovered that life with adults was easier for him.

Adding to those within Alex's limited friendships, was an elderly widower, Mr. Peterson. Mr. Peterson is an American who fought in the Vietnam War before falling in love with a British woman and relocating himself. With the recent death of his wife, Mr. Peterson preferred to live his life with little contact with the outside world while cultivating his private marijuana crop until Alex appears at his house. Through developing an interest with other adults from the local library, the two develop a special friendship over Kurt Vonnegut.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a debut novel by Gavin Extence. As a child, Gavin exhibited a rare ability in playing chess representing Britain and has competed internationally.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a rare novel with a strong personal voice. It is well-organized and with an addictive writing style. The generational relationships between a teenager and adults is realistic and wonderful as the story develops. The ethical decisions in the story makes each reader question their personal values and also considers the problem of what is fair and just that is against the law.

The characters is this novel are realistic. With a caring mother, a loyal friend, a science advisor, adult friends from a book club, an understanding librarian, a grouchy old man, and a boy who just wants to do the right thing, whatever that may be, makes The Universe Versus Alex Woods an outstanding book.

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