A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that We All Looked Up is a debut novel from a "singer-songwriter and novelist." Bands and songs are frequently mentioned, and a note at the end promotes author Tommy Wallach's companion album to the book. High school seniors frequently drink, smoke marijuana, think or talk about sex, and use a wide variety of strong profanity (most often "f--k," "s--t," "ass" and their variations). Growing up and figuring out what really matters in life, as well as how to hang on to hope, are magnified and explored in depth as the teen characters face a possibly world-ending apocalyptic event.
What's the story?
Scientists predict that an asteroid big enough to destroy large swaths of life will hit in two months. People are going to have to decide, and quickly, what their lives are really about. Things that seemed so important before are meaningless without a future. So what does that leave? Four high school seniors in Seattle find out whether what they thought about themselves and each other was right, what's worth holding on to, and how to live every day as if it's your last.
Is it any good?
WE ALL LOOKED UP is a strong debut novel from Tommy Wallach. The solid writing, utterly believable characters, and deft handling of multiple points of view elevate what could have been a hackneyed or clichéd doomsday scenario to something fresh and compelling. Mature teens who can handle matter-of-fact attitudes toward drinking, drugs, and sex will find themselves rooting for the large cast of characters as they struggle with what's really important in life. The plot builds at a steady pace that'll keep the pages turning. Some may find the ending unsatisfying, but it should further spark the imagination and lead to a lot of reflection about life and what we make of it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about end-of-the-world scenarios. Why do so many books and movies use that premise? What are some other ways to explore the same ideas?
Did you notice the note at the end about the album that goes with the book? Do you agree that this book was a good opportunity to bring novel writing and songwriting together? Why?
Why do you think the book ends where it does? Where would you have it end, if you could? Why?
- Author: Tommy Wallach
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 24, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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