Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

This beautiful story takes place during the week or two leading up to the Space Shuttle Challenger launch in 1986. Though it takes place in the 80’s, the author didn’t write it to feel that way. This novel is very relevant for our day and age, and the reader can easily forget it is set in the ’80s until a popular artist, song, fashion style is mentioned.

The main character is a nonverbal, autistic, 12-year-old girl named Nova, and she has spent most of her life in foster care with her older sister. The author has done an amazing job letting the reader in the mind of Nova and experiencing how she processes situations that involve stress, confusion, happiness, etc.

Nova is extremely passionate about space exploration, and watching the Challenger go up in space is her pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She places all her hopes and dreams into viewing the launch with her older sister, but if you paid attention in history class, you will remember that the shuttle’s outcome is very bleak.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I will tell you there are two bombshells near the end of the story that I did not expect. The smaller of the bombshells is about Nova’s mother and is revealed about 3/4 of the way through. And the big bombshell is at the end, and I honestly didn’t see it coming until I was practically there.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and it brought such important insight into the mind of an autistic child that I was honestly not aware of before I picked up the novel.

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