At the Edge of the Universe

Category: Book
By (author): Hutchinson, Shaun David
Subject:  YOUNG ADULT FICTION / General
  YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Science Fiction / General
  YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Depression
Audience: young adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: February 2018
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 512
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in
Our Price:
$ 17.75
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*From the author of We Are the Ants comes "another winner" (Booklist, starred review) about a boy who believes the universe is slowly shrinking as things he remembers are being erased from others' memories.

Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since the second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town-and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.

Ozzie doesn't know how to navigate life without Tommy, and soon he suspects that something else is going on: that the universe is shrinking.

When Ozzie is paired up with the reclusive and secretive Calvin for a physics project, it's hard for him to deny the feelings developing between them, even if he still loves Tommy.

But Ozzie knows there isn't much time left to find Tommy-that once the door closes, it can't be opened again. And he's determined to keep it open as long as possible.
Review Quote*If your boyfriend is erased from history, is it because the universe is shrinking, or have you totally lost your mind?During senior year in high school, college applications and prom dates are the stresses du jour. But Oswald "Ozzie" Pinkerton's also include trying to convince anyone (family, friends, an alphabetical string of therapists) that his boyfriend, Tommy, ever existed. They theorize that Ozzie is obsessive and slightly touched; he theorizes that the universe is shrinking and that Tommy was a casualty of restricting astral girth. As Ozzie tracks the solar system's diminishing waist size, his still-existing world unravels and conversely weaves new chapters. One of these chapters is Calvin, a once-golden, now-reclusive student. When the two are paired for a physics project, Ozzie weighs his loyalty to absent Tommy against his growing attraction to present Calvin. A varied cast of characters populates the pages: there's a genderqueer girl who prefers masculine pronouns, a black boyfriend, an Asian/Jewish (by way of adoption) best friend, and a bevy of melting-pot surnames. Ozzie is a white male, and he is respectfully called out on underestimating the privilege he enjoys for being just that. Though Ozzie primarily narrates in the past tense (with sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll drifting through the background), intermittent flashbacks in the present tense unveil the tender, intimate history of Ozzie's relationship with Tommy. An earthy, existential coming-of-age gem. (Fantasy. 14 & up)
Review Quote*The universe isn't expanding anymore-it's actually shrinking, and Florida high-school senior Ozzie is the only one who remembers it differently. He's also the only one who remembers Tommy, his best friend since childhood and boyfriend since the eighth grade. Tommy has vanished, both from Ozzie's life and from the memories of everyone around him. As graduation approaches and Ozzie's world becomes literally smaller, he struggles to find Tommy with increasing desperation, even as he grows closer to Calvin, the quiet, elusive boy in his physics class. Occasionally nihilistic but never completely hopeless, the narrative supports multiple topics with grace: gender and sexual identities, mental illness, and the inevitable grief that comes with learning to move from one phase of life to another. A few familiar faces from Hutchinson's We Are the Ants (2016) make cameo appearances, and fans will recognize similar motifs Hutchinson writes variations on a theme, to be sure, but it's a rich theme. Wrenching and thoughtprovoking, Hutchinson has penned another winner. - Maggie Reagan
Review Quote*Oswald "Ozzie" Pinkerton is facing a gauntlet of problems: his parents are divorcing; his older brother is skipping college to join the military, and Ozzie is afraid he'll be killed; and Ozzie's boyfriend since eighth grade, Tommy, has vanished. To make matters worse, everyone in the town of Cloud Lake seems to have erased Tommy from their memories, even Ozzie and Tommy's best friends, gender-fluid punk rocker Lua and quiet valedictorian Dustin. Also, the universe is shrinking, and Ozzie appears to be the only person who realizes it. Ozzie has no idea how to function without Tommy, but when he's paired with solitary Calvin for a physics project and Calvin mentions Tommy's name, Ozzie begins to hope that Tommy is still out there. Hutchinson follows up We Are the Ants with a deep and introspective novel full of angst and suffering. Readers will feel Ozzie's nearly radiant pain, but Universe isn't singularly focused. All of the characters are neatly fleshed out and have their own personal anguish: Lua deals with being gender-fluid in a small town; Dustin, whose father loses the family fortune, has to confront a future where his dreams cannot be attained; and Ozzie's trials serve as a lens through which readers can examine the scope of human experience in this (shrinking) universe. VERDICT A closing revelation may frustrate some, but this smartly written, profound look at the wells of human despair will stay with readers. Recommended for all YA collections where Hutchinson's work circulates heavily.
Review Quote*Ozzie cherishes countless memories with his boyfriend, Tommy. Then, one day, Tommy just disappears. No one except Ozzie even knows who Tommy is, and no one but Ozzie knows that the universe is shrinking. Reality is blurred. High school is already difficult to navigate-the universe swallowing up a first love and, thereby, completely erasing a soulmate does not make it any easier. No one believes him-but Ozzie will do whatever it takes to find Tommy again. Then he meets Calvin, a former wrestling champ, who becomes his partner on a class project. As their feelings for each other manifest, Ozzie is torn between loyalty to Tommy and his desire for Calvin.

Reality relies on perception, and At the Edge of the Universe challenges supposed truths, begging the reader to consider a myriad of possibilities. A diverse cast of characters includes a black boyfriend, a white boyfriend, a gender-fluid friend, and an Asian friend adopted by a Jewish family. Along with exploring the complexities of time and reality, Hutchinson delves deep into serious high school issues like self-mutilation, rape, sex, and identity. Calvin, a character who causes Ozzie to question his feelings for Tommy, copes with a deep depression through cutting. He explains the process in detail, both scientifically and psychologically. Sexual experiences are vividly described. Profanity is used throughout the story to make the dialogue more realistic. While some readers may find some of the graphic content troubling, the questions these topics raise will cause readers to rethink the world in which they live.-Richard Vigdor.
Review Quote*Any breakup can make a person feel like the world has just ended, but high school senior Ozzie Pinkerton of Florida feels even worse: as far as the universe is concerned, his ex-boyfriend Tommy never existed.

His friends and family won't talk to him about Tommy because they have no memory of him. Ozzie is determined to find him, but there are complications. He starts crushing on the smart, mysterious Calvin and wonders whether he can cheat on someone who never existed. His parents' marriage is over, but they all still share a house, and his brother is about to leave for the military. It's no wonder he feels like the world is closing in on him, but--oh, wait--that's happening, too. When Ozzie realizes the universe literally is shrinking every day, he starts to wonder if the universe is trying to tell him something, and if so, what the heck it could be.

While Shaun David Hutchinson ( ..) is a master of fusing the bizarre with the mundane, and the plot is delightfully constructed, it is Ozzie's pained, sardonic voice that steals the spotlight. Hutchinson's authentic characters, exploring their gender and sexuality with equal parts confusion and confidence, will resonate with many teens who no longer see their identity as binary or unchanging. Ozzie's story may be fantastical, but its emotional honesty renders the whole complicated story believable, and readers will flock to its central truths. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

Discover: Shaun David Hutchinson's smart YA novel finds authenticity in the weirdest of places.