Sixth grade is only just over, but Virgil Salinas already regrets the rest of middle school. This is the day he believes he’s officially a Grand Failure. The quietest kid in a seemingly flawless family, he’s always felt different. His only sources of comfort are his grandmother Lola, who loves to tell him the stories from the Philippines which she heard growing up, and Gulliver, his pet guinea pig. But when Virgil and Gulliver end up in danger, and no one knows where they are, everything changes.
Valencia, a girl who’s deaf who Virgil has always admired for her courage and daring.
Kaori, a self-proclaimed psychic who believes she’s a reincarnated freedom fighter from Bangladesh.
Chet, a school bully who pulls the trick which gets Virgil in trouble in the first place.
They’re four middle school misfits, who barely even know each other. But when their paths collide in what might just be fate, their lives are changed forever.
Hello, Universe was sometimes funny, sometimes thought-provoking, but always with themes of friendship and acceptance. With chapters narrated by Virgil, Valencia, Kaori and Chet, by the end of the book, I felt like I knew each of them in a really personal way. This is a book you read less for the plot, although it was quite engaging, and more for the interesting, relatable characters, who truly formed the heart of this story. Hello, Universe won the Newbery Medal, and I’m not surprised; it is a truly excellent book. I recommend Hello, Universe to readers ages ten and up.