I had intended to read Susin Nielsen’s We Are All Made of Molecules before her The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen, but didn’t. We can’t all be perfect. And that’s what this book is about, among many other things. Being perfect, or not, and whether that is important.
Ashley likes things to be just so; your body should be perfect, and your clothes too, and you should pick the most perfect friends, according to her criteria. Luckily her family is physically just right. That is, until her dad comes out as gay and moves out. Although not as far as this might suggest.
And then her perfect mum falls in love with Stewart’s dad, and they move in with them (with Ashley’s dad basically living in the garden shed…). Stewart is perfect too, but only according to his dad and his recently deceased mum. He is gifted, and quite possibly on the autistic spectrum, and would quite like to have a sister, except it slowly dawns on him that Ashley doesn’t want to be that sister.
This is lovely and amusing, while also dealing with LGBT issues, families, friendship, bullying, abusive relationships and being clever, and courageous. Stewart’s bounciness is what makes things as right as they can be. Ever the optimist and kind and fair, albeit clueless on some fronts, he does his very best for everyone, despite Ashley working hard to stop him.
In the end they turn out to be quite good for each other, and both sets of parents are fully entitled to feel proud of Stewart and Ashley. You also learn how much other children have to offer, once you see past their less than perfect exteriors. It’s down to our molecules, really.