The First State of Being

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly (Those Kids from Fawn Creek; Hello, Universe) introduces a tender-hearted tween boy with anxiety who learns to live mindfully from a time traveler in this buoyant and entertaining middle-grade novel.

Twelve-year-old Michael worries about him and his single mom surviving Y2K, believing the theory that computers will glitch when systems switch to 2000 and shut down the world. But it isn't Y2K that threatens the universe first. It's a 16-year-old boy named Ridge, half Filipino like Michael, who has traveled from 2199 to see 1999. Michael, together with his 15-year-old babysitter (and crush), Gibby, lead Ridge on a tour of their year and pluck tidbits about the future from him. Ridge refuses, however, to discuss Y2K, or to let anyone read his sumbook, a 22nd-century text summarizing history. Despite increasing dangers, Michael plots to read that sumbook--maybe learning everything about the future means he won't ever feel anxious again.

Kelly has written one of the kindest boys in children's literature: Michael thinks first of others, yet he is weighed down by his uneasy mind and wavering self-worth. Ridge reassures Michael with precepts from the future, like the idea that staying in "the first state of being" (the here and now) matters more than obsessing over what-ifs. This helps steer Michael toward accepting that "not knowing is part of life." Throughout, Kelly touches on grief and guilt, but also on fulfilling friendships and stomach-fizzing moments of young love. The First State of Being is tremendously touching--a fantastic and upliftingly fun read. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

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