January 29, 2035.
That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.
Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?
When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
I feel a bit weird starting to write this review, because my opinions on it are quite varying.
Plot wise, it was fine. Nothing special, but a good read. The writing was average, and overall it was an enjoyable read.
But where this book is really great is with it’s diversity. First off, the main character is a mixed race teenager with autism. Although I don’t think I would have necessarily got that she was autistic if it wasn’t for the constant reminding through the dialogue, I don’t think I’ve ever read another young adult book with an autistic main character – especially not a female, character of colour, which is doubly important as autism is hugely under-diagnosed in females, and especially black girls, as it presents differently than it does in boys. So, yeah – major props for a complex, incredibly thought out character.
And I loved how she came into her own and learned to speak her mind and stand up for herself and others as the book went on, eventually deciding to put herself first for once. But also, I loved that this story wasn’t about her being black or autistic. While those are two things that obviously shaped her life, her experiences, and her interactions with others (as demonstrated when she has to point out the relationship between her and her white mother to other people, and when she mentions how her sister reacts to people questioning her race), and also, while it’s hugely important to have stories written about those things specifically, it’s also crucial to have stories about girls going into space, and saving the day, and struggling with family, and just generally getting on with life, while those parts of their lives are included in their story, but isn’t the main plot. Wow, that was a long sentence. Did that make sense? I hope so.
But it wasn’t just the protagonist and her immediate family who created a diverse world in On the Edge of Gone. There are so many instances when someone is mentioned to not be white, who is in a wheelchair, who is in a hijab. Little things, but important things that other books just fail to even think about mentioning, that really create an image of this world as representing just how diverse life is in reality.
Going back to what I didn’t like… it was just a bit too convenient that after a comet collided with earth, then a massive tsunami, and the sky is full of dust and people can hardly see, and there’s fires raging all over, that Denise would have still been able to find her sister in the wreckage of the outside world. And I know that that is the basis for a lot of disaster movies and novels, it just seemed too easy a situation in which to happen.
Overall, I really enjoyed this, but was blown away by the efforts to include so much diversity, in race, religions, abilities, and sexualities. Definitely recommend it!