Title: THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
Author: Ria Voros
Pub. Date: April 2, 2018
Publisher: KCP Loft
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Grace Carter’s mother — the celebrity news anchor GG Carter — is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace — an aspiring astrophysicist — is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits.
Then one day GG is just … gone. Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace’s family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers.
While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG’s disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school’s golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother’s long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted … or did she leave? And if she left, why?
Author Ria Voros (Nobody’s Dog, The Opposite of Geek) reaches for the stars here, deftly combining mystery with a passion for science and themes of mother-daughter bonds, celebrity, first love and best friendship.
Facts about astronomy and astrophysics are seamlessly woven into the story and are supplemented by an interview with real-life astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker, making this the perfect book for readers who love STEM. And even readers who don’t have stars in their eyes will love this smart, suspenseful, relatable and literary novel.
Q & A with Ria
1. How did you come up with the idea for The Center of the Universe?
I wanted to explore the complexity of a mother-daughter relationship. I wanted to find out what might happen if a mother suddenly disappeared—how would the family cope, how would the teen daughter handle it? What would happen if the mother returned? What would change once that trauma was between them? Could it become a way to reconnect and move forward? All the astronomy stuff came into the book later, as a way to look at the relationships between the characters using metaphors and space themes.
2. Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes! I started writing poetry as soon as I could write sentences, and then stories in notebooks. I told one of my teachers that I wanted to be a journalist because I believed this meant I would be paid to write in my journal. That didn’t work out for me, but writing novels has been a good step up. It’s not my only job, though. I’m also an instructor at a community college, which fuels my writing in some ways, because I’m surrounded by fascinating humans all the time and I can’t help but put aspects of them in my books.
3. Do you schedule your writing time or just when inspiration strikes you?
I try to schedule time, but it’s hard because I have two young kids and my teaching job. Often, I take writing time when I can find it. It might be when my kids are sleeping or for a few hours at a library, or sometimes on wonderful, intense writing weekends when I leave town and hole up somewhere and write all day, only taking breaks for walks and ice cream. But I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to strike. For me, a book only happens if I sit at my desk and write even when it sucks.
4. What is one thing that you want readers to take away from this story?
I hope readers think about the people in their lives—maybe parents, or maybe others—who they think they know well. And consider that those people have inner lives—thoughts, experiences, memories—we can never truly know. In the book, Grace realizes she never really understood her mother in a fair way. She comes to see her as a much more complex person. I think this is really important for all our relationships. And I also hope readers enjoy the astronomy facts! That part of the research was super fun, because I’m a huge science geek.
About the Author
Ria Voros is a YA and children’s author, teacher, presenter and obsessive reader. Her children’s and young adult novels have been finalists for the White Pine Award, the Rocky Mountain Book Award, and been a Best Books for Kids and Teens selection. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. When she’s not writing, teaching or eating sweet things, Ria can be found hiking to the tops of mountains or buying too many books at any bookstore she enters. She lives in Victoria, BC, Canada with her husband, daughter and son.
Review of The Center of the Universe
Reviw (4.5 Stars): The Center of the Universe was a thought-provoking novel that kept me on the edge of my seat with its well-written dialogue and fascinating characters. I was swept away from the very first page and the information about the stars that laced this story, appealed to the science buff in me. I thoroughly enjoyed this story with all its beautiful elements and I feel that everyone should add this to their TBR piles.