Little Universes by Heather Demetrios

Little Universes

by Heather Demetrios

Heather Demetrios's Little Universes is a book about the powerful bond between sisters, the kinds of love that never die, and the journey we all must make through the baffling cruelty and unexpected beauty of human life in an incomprehensible universe.

One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.

When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light, and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of bringing them closer, it feels like the wave has torn the sisters apart.

Hannah is a secret poet who wants to be seen, but only knows how to hide. The pain pills she stole from her dead father hurl her onto the shores of an addiction she can’t shake and a dealer who turns her heart upside down. When it’s clear Hannah’s drowning, Mae, a budding astronaut suddenly launched into an existential crisis―and unexpected love―must choose between herself and the only family she has left.

Reviewed by shannonmiz on

5 of 5 stars

You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Well, I just got done reading this and sitting in a long-cold bubble bath sobbing my face off. Because it is that good. I highlighted giant chunks of the thing because both the writing and the messages were just so damned beautiful.

Sisters Mae and Hannah have just lost their parents in a horrific tsunami, and have absolutely no idea how to move forward. Because who would, honestly? Mae is incredibly science and logic focused, which makes her grieving even more difficult, as there is no logic in grief. Hannah had been struggling with drug use since before their deaths, and obviously the loss of her parents shattered her even further, and sent her spiraling even more.

As they move across the country to live with their (incredibly loving) aunt, uncle, and cousin, they have to figure out how to rebuild. And there is a lot going on in both girls' lives beyond just the loss of their parents. Mae needs to decide if she can and should leave her sister to follow her lifelong dream of being an astronaut, or if she needs to change her trajectory. She finds a great friend in her cousin Nate, and Nate's friend Ben who is kind of the best and also kind of more than a friend. Hannah is recovering from an abortion that she isn't sure she wanted to have, in addition to the addiction. She's pulled from her long-time boyfriend Micah, and feels more alone than ever. She also finds out a secret about their parents that is eating away at her as she tries to spare her sister the pain.

There are so many tremendous side characters in this book, not all of whom I can even mention for fear of spoilers. I loved that the girls had so many supports (and they both acknowledge that they are quite lucky, too) especially in their family who were willing to step up to help them through this. They not only need to learn to navigate these new relationships (or rather, closer relationships) with extended family, but their new normals with each other.

And look, this book is heavy. It isn't a quick or easy read. But it just so lovely, so full of heart, and at the end of the day, so hopeful, that it is completely worth the journey.

Bottom Line: It's a story about the triumph and resilience of the human spirit against all odds. It's love overcoming death, and there's nothing greater than that.

**Trigger warning for death, grief, abortion, assault, attempted suicide, drug addiction/overdose

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 24 April, 2020: Finished reading
  • 24 April, 2020: Reviewed