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Clues to the Universe

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  113 reviews
This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to questions bigger than yourself will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly, Sara Pennypacker, and Rebecca Stead.

On the surface, Rosalind Ling Geraghty and Benjamin Burns are completely different. Aspiring rocket scientist Ro normally has a plan for everything
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Quill Tree Books
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Average rating 4.49  · 
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Fadwa (Word Wonders)
Content warnings: (view spoiler)

This book tore my heart to pieces and put it back together and I did NOT see that coming. Don't get me wrong, I knew this book deals with grief, it's right there in the synopsis, but what I didn't expect is how beautiful the depiction was and how soft and tender and heart achingly sweet this book would be.

Clues to the Universe is a story set in the 1980s (which I didn't know, for some reason
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
My full review is now on my book blog, The Quite Pond.

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021, and it DELIVERED - and also shattered my heart in the process.
Clues to the Universe is a splendid, heart-aching, and soft debut and y'all absolutely need to read this.

- Follows Ro, a biracial Chinese-White American kid who is starting a new school following the death of her father. She's trying to build a rocket - so she can send tangible memories of her father into space so that they can be
4 stars

This book really is the embodiment of “messy kids big hearts” because, throughout this book, both Ro and Benji are consistently very messy and get themselves in a lot of messes and say a lot of messy, not very-well-thought-out things to each other, but throughout it all, you can still tell how much they love each other and how much they want each other to succeed. This is one of my favorite kinds of friendship stories to read because I think it perfectly captures the imperfection of frien
I didn’t expect to love this book so much. I’m sad because I want more of Benji and Ro. Maybe a sequel in which they’re older? LIKE PLEASE?!
content/trigger warnings: death of a parent or loved one, bullying, grief, divorce, abandonment

- This is a story about family and friendship that will make you feel things

I am used to reading fast-paced fantasy middle grade books which is why I was pleasantly surprised when this quiet middle grade swept me off my feet. Clues to the Universe is a brilliant debut set in the 1980s that follows Ro and Benji—two promising kids who unexpectedly found friendship through science and comics. I love
The 80's are my jam, so I love discovering new juvenile fiction set in that era. This book is set in 1983 and a time when we were ramping up our space game with the space shuttles. Christina Li tells us the story of Rosalind (Ro) and Benjamin (Benji) with alternating POV chapters. They accidentally switch purple folders in their first science class of the year and soon have a pact. Ro will have help building a rocket she had started with her late father for the science fair. While working on the ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Clues to the Universe is a story about a girl and a boy who are both so different yet so alike in many different ways, and their unlikely friendship. At the beginning of the book, Ro has just recently lost her dad in an accident, while Benji is determined to find his father who walked out on him when he was a toddler. Ro agrees to help Benji find his father if he helps her build the rocket that she was supposed t
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so wholesome I can't even😭😍 ...more
Ms. Yingling
E ARC Provided by Netgalley

It's 1983, and Ro is starting a new school. After the death of her father, her mother could no longer afford the tuition at her private school. She is anxious about being new, but switches folders in science class with Benji by mistake, and the two are intrigued by each other and strike up a friendship, eating lunch together in the cafeteria instead of hiding. Ro is trying to build a model rocket, because she and her father were interested in the space shuttle, and Ben
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Christina Li’s debut, CLUES TO UNIVERSE is told in alternating POVs between Ro and Benji, two twelve-year-olds who are both searching for a connection to their lost fathers. Both kids are adrift when they are thrust together as lab partners in science class. Polar opposites, the kids find little reason to connect at first. Ro, who loves science, is organized almost to a fault, whereas Benji is barely passing math and science. But what begins as an unlikely pairing soon develops into a loyal part ...more
Kath Lau
Another must-read middle grade fiction! Clues to the Universe follows the story of Ro and Benjie. Ro is trying to finish the model rocket she has started building with her father when he's still alive. Benjie is a comic-book lover and an artist. He believes that the artist/creator of his favorite comic book is his father who walked out on him and his family.

The friendship between Ro and Benjie is so precious. They learned from each other and support each other. I also liked that the adults are p
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A girl who loves science and a boy who loves comic books forge a beautiful friendship around their shared search for family connection. I loved the way this story touched on cosmic things... not just rocket launches and craters on the moon, but our cosmic connections to our families and friends, and our need to make sense of the mysterious universe we all share. Many thanks to Harper Collins/Quill Tree Books for the ARC of CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE.
Can a book make your heart burst with joy yet ache with longing at the same time? 

I literally never cry when it comes to books...I only cried once and that honor went to Anne of Green Gables. But Clues to the Universe touched me so deeply and gave me all the feels! This incredible debut novel is now going on my favorites of all time list. I'll be posting review...eventually...once I stop sobbing inside, but in the meantime, just do yourself a favor and read it!!!
May 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clues to the Universe takes place during the 80’s but feels so timeless. I loved the friendship between Benji and Ro. I also felt the representation of bullying and Benji and Ro’s reactions to it were so relatable.
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably my favourite middle grade book that I've ever read . It was so wholesome and it warmed my heart. I loved this so much. ...more
belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)
actual rating: 4.5 stars

fell in love with these two space babies.

check out my full thoughts on my blog~

Clues to the Universe was a touching story about loss and grief. I tried to not cry while reading certain scenes but never succeeded in stopping my tears. It broke me down yet lifted my spirits as Benji and Ro’s stories continued on. Plots revolving around a loss of a parent or a loved one always hit me the hardest since it highly reflects a personal fear of mine.

Ro’s coping mechanism of
Cassie Thomas
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
An amazing debut that is absolutely beautiful. Such a heartwarming, heart tugging story of two kids searching for different things while slowly finding themselves. Being lost and struggling with that lonely feeling is tough, but to do it in middle school - whew - that can be even tougher. There is a lot of emotion in this book, but it is NOT heavy for middle grade readers. I really loved the deep diving it did into the grief - it was an amazing explanation done differently than any other story I ...more
Growing up my best friend was the boy who lived next door, we used to play for hours drawing pictures and playing in his backyard, so I'm always drawn to stories that feature a strong boy and girl friendship. Ro and Benji are such endearing characters who at first don't have much in common. Ro likes science and working on her model rocket to commemorate her father, Benji is an artist who hopes that the extra credit from the science fair will improve his grade enough so his mom won't force him to ...more
Phil Jensen
Apr 09, 2021 marked it as notes-on-unfinished-books  ·  review of another edition
I read the first three chapters. It grew on me. The beginning felt like overt diversity, girls in STEM, positive message territory, but I got more interested when it got into the school drama. I guess that made the main character less perfect and more relatable. I was okay with this book, but I don't see it as particularly distinguished. ...more
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


“Clues to the Universe” is a fantastic middle-grade novel that talks about friendship and aspirations, and I loved reading it!

It’s rare to come across novels that touch you emotionally. It’s also a pleasant surprise that this happens to be the debut novel by the author. I thought it was perfect! The author touches on many factors like bullying, adjusting to a new place, making friends, and coping with losing a loved one. On t
A heartwarming story told in alternating points-of-view between Ro & Benji, two middle school students in the 1980s who develop an accidental friendship. Ro, an aspiring rocket scientist & Benji, an aspiring artist are both suffering from losing their fathers, but form an unlikely friendship and learn about themselves as they form a bond through comics and a rocket-building science project.

Thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC for this story.
sav 🌈
May 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bipoc-rep
the last line had me crying bro
Sarah Sammis
Ro and Benji team up to complete their projects. Together they will build the rocket and enter it in the science fair. They will also search for clues in the comic books to discover the whereabouts of Benji's father.

Their friendship is real and raw and organic. It grows over the course of the novel after the two accidentally swap folders. This is a friendship in the days before texting and cellphones but there is still bullying, rumors, and other middle school nastiness.
Terry Jennings
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet story of two accidental friends who, in trying to help the other, find what they were looking for themselves. A tale of a spunky rocket scientist girl and an artist boy will grab your heart.
chloe ♡
review to come!! i loved this so much <3
What is a great friendship book for elementary and middle school kids?

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li is!

What is true friendship?

Is it only doing what you want to do and not considering the other person’s feelings? Is it being there for your best friend when they are hurting, even if you are hurting yourself?

Ro and Benji are two of the unlikeliest friends in the universe. Ro is a science nerd and Benji is an artist/comic book nerd. Benji and Ro sit next to each other in science class on th
Shakirah Bourne
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE tells the story of the aspiring rocket scientist Ro and budding comic artist Benji, who both are struggling with the loss of their fathers, and find an unlikely bond through comics and a rocket-building science project.
Li has a way of creating characters that you want to be friends with, and that you care about in just a few pages. The STEM elements in this book are especially welcoming. Who needs to buy a radio if you have a friend like Ro who can make one in her lab?
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Christina Li tackles so many emotions and introduces us to 2 charming characters; Ro and Benji. I was invested from beginning to start and still cannot stop thinking about how if I read this when I was 12, it definitely would've changed me. This book is so influential and impactful, full review on my blog soon!!

Thank you to Christina & HarperCollins for the e-ARC!

Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SO GOOD! Full review to come. 😊
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