THE PROBABILITY OF EVERYTHING, by Sarah Everett, Clarion Books, June 27, 2023, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 8-12)
When an asteroid’s path heads straight toward Earth, an 11-year-old writes a book to prove people existed in The Probability of Everything, by Sarah Everett.
Eleven-year-old Kemi Carter loves scientific facts, specifically probability. It’s how she understands the world and her place in it. Kemi knows her odds of being born were 1 in 5.5 trillion, and that the odds of her having the best family ever were even lower. Yet somehow, Kemi lucked out.
But everything Kemi thought she knew changes when she sees an asteroid hover in the sky, casting a purple haze over her world. Amplus-68 has an 84.7% chance of colliding with earth in four days, and with that collision, Kemi’s life as she knows it will end.
But over the course of the four days, even facts don’t feel true to Kemi anymore. The new town she moved to that was supposed to be “better for her family” isn’t very welcoming. And Amplus-68 is taking over her life, but others are still going to school and eating at their favorite diner like nothing has changed. Is Kemi the only one who feels like the world is ending?
With the days numbered, Kemi decides to put together a time capsule that will capture her family’s truth: how creative her mother is, how inquisitive her little sister can be, and how much Kemi’s whole world revolves around her father. But no time capsule can change the truth behind all of it, that Kemi must face the most inevitable and hardest part of life: saying goodbye. —Synopsis provided by Clarion Books
The Probability of Everything is an end-of-the-world book. But it’s not the end-of-the-world book you’re expecting. It’s one of those books that you should NOT read out of order. Do NOT read the ending first. Start at the beginning and enjoy the ride.
At the center of the story is Kemi, a smart young woman who loves science and math. When the asteroid comes, she immediately turns to what she can trust — facts. And as she gathers information, she discovers that “The end of anything (even the world, even us) is just change. Kind of like water turning to ice or rearranging furniture. We just become something different. This means: We don’t have to be afraid.”
Kemi turns her grief about the end of the world into something positive. Her deep love for her family, her need to honor them, is powerful.
The Probability of Everything is not an easy read. And, as I’ve alluded to before, it turns out to be about something more. But, oh, how gut-wrenchingly beautiful it is. It’s sprinkled with love and hope and heartbreak. As a parent, I’d want to read it prior to my child, just because I know there would be questions and conversations. It’s a transformative read.
*The Probability of Everything is a Cybils-nominated book. This review is my opinion and not the opinion of the middle-grade fiction panel as a whole.
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