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*Relativity* by Cristin Bishara- young adult book review
by Cristin Bishara
Grades 7+ 288 pages Walker September 2013 Hardcover    

Who hasn’t entertained the idea of wishing we could choose another life, where everything we want is just perfect? Who hasn’t wished for a device that could take us to alternate universes, where we could get a taste of how things “might have been” had we made different choices in our universe? Author Cristin Bishara has written a truly moving and utterly haunting novel about just that: choosing the ideal life from among many and paying the resulting consequences for that choice.

In Relativity, Bashara introduces us to a teenage girl named Ruby who is grieving the loss of her mother, a move far from the place she loved, and a new family that threatens to disrupt any bit of stability she has to hold onto. When she discovers a mysterious old tree that is so much more than it seems, she suddenly realizes that she has the ability to travel back and forth between other realities where her mother is alive, where she didn’t move, where her parents are still married, where this and that is different—and how just one aspect ripples out to affect everything. Ruby must set aside her own grief and her own desires to have the “perfect” universe to exist in and learn that even the promise of perfection has its mighty costs.

Bishara skillfully weaves actual theoretical physics about string theory, wormholes and relativity into the amazingly imaginative and emotionally gripping storyline. Not only does the reader get a nice education on wormholes and parallel universes but also the opportunity, through Ruby, to ask ourselves the same question: would we choose to live in another reality that appeared to be perfect? Appearances, as Ruby discovers, can be deceiving.

This book features a teen protagonist, but don’t let it scare you away if you are an adult reader. This very adult reader gobbled up the book in two short sittings, then realized that the story (and the questions) haunted me continuously throughout the day. That is the hallmark of a great story—that long after you close the book, you think about it, you ponder it, and you ask yourself the very same “what ifs” the characters did.

Relativity is an emotional powerhouse that will engage you on an intellectual level, yes. But its real power lies in getting deep under your skin and asking that you look at your life in a whole new way before deciding to pursue something better.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Marie D. Jones/2013 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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