THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
Author: Ria Voros
Pub. Date: April 2, 2018
Publisher: KCP Loft
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Synopsis: 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.
This book has such an interesting premise that I was struck with such a desire to read it the second that I heard about it. I haven’t read a book quite like this, with a celebrity mom gone missing angle, so I was thrilled with the chance to be on the blog tour for it!
Aside from one of the prettiest covers ever (love the colors, oh my gosh), the story itself is completely engaging and I found myself wrapped up in the life of Grace and her missing mother.
I also enjoyed the subtle relationship that is in this book with Mylo – it wasn’t an expected kind of relationship so I was all kinds of excited when it started. It was cute. It was sweet. It really showed that two troubled human beings can help each other through tragedies and problems in each others’ lives. It was the kind of thing that we need more of right now.
The characters in this book, especially Grace, are so well written and I fell in love with all of them. They were interesting, perfectly fleshed out, and had such great personalities that they practically jumped off the page. I found myself kind of sad when the book was over, because I had grown to like them all so much.
I love that Grace’s character just felt so real. She had big dreams and she chased them, which was so inspiring and made her the kind of character that is not only relatable, but also the kind of character that you instantly like. Is it possible to have insta-love for a book character?!
The mystery aspect of The Center of the Universe will leave readers begging for answers throughout the book – I found myself glued to the pages waiting to see exactly what happened to GG and why. At the same time, there is other stuff going on in the book that held my interest as well.
In my eyes, this is an amazing contemporary that I will honestly be reading again at some point. I’d love to revisit the amazing characters and the interesting plot. Definitely pick this up!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review – Thank you!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always been an avid reader and a teller of stories (especially to my captive family members on long hikes), so I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was pretty young. I started writing poetry as soon as I could write sentences. 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 books has been a good step up.
Who was your favorite character to write in The Center of the Universe? Why?
It’s hard to pick just one. I loved writing Iris’s character because she’s funny and homeschooled and super smart. And she’s a really supportive friend, which is a crucial attribute for me. I also enjoyed developing Patricia/Grandma’s character because she’s so infuriating and also complicated. I love characters (and people) who show you different sides of themselves. There’s something so beautifully human about that.
What is your favorite scene in The Center of the Universe?
Again, it’s hard to pick! I really love the scenes where Iris and Grace banter—I love writing fun dialogue. But my favourite section of the book is chapter 69. It’s only two paragraphs long and not really a scene as much as Grace reflecting, after a shocking conversation, about how we impact others we interact with on a daily basis. She realizes we are all in a constant state of both injury and healing and there was something really profound about writing these “thoughts” of hers and realizing they were a deeper truth I could carry with me in my life.
What is your favorite part of being an author? Is it coming up with stories, developing great characters, or something else?
I love all of it, even the parts I hate! But my favourite parts are the first thirty pages or so, when it still feels like whatever story I’m writing is the best thing ever. (Things always go downhill from there.) But my favourite part of the writing process is around draft seven or eight, when characters and plotlines are really coming together and I know what I need to do to make the story better and I’m in the zone. It’s the best feeling in the world.
What was your writing process like while you were writing The Center of the Universe?
It took about five years, with breaks in between, to finish the book and get it accepted for publication. I have young kids and a day job, so I can’t write all the time. But part of my process is also to a take break after I’ve finished a draft so I can rest my writing brain and come back to the work with a fresh perspective. That drags out the process for sure. In terms of a writing day, I snatch time whenever I can, so 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.
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.
3 lucky winners will win a finished copy of THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, US Only.
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