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Book Reviews, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Middle Grade Readers

NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT by Gennifer Choldenko

No Passengers Beyond This Point is an exciting combination of science fiction/fantasy and a family tale of love and struggle.  One of the strengths of the story is that it is told in turns from the point of view of the three children in the Tompkins family:  India, 14; Finn, 12; and Mouse, 5.  The children take turns narrating the chapters with three very distinct voices.

The children have lost their father to a car accident when the youngest child, Mouse, was born.  Their mother is a school teacher and at the opening of the story they have lost their house to the bank.  The children are told they will moving to Colorado to live with their Uncle Red.  Mom will join them after the end of the school year.

India is frustrated by her mother’s rules and her own desire to have fun and be free of family obligations and expectations.  Finn suffers from extreme anxiety and constantly worries about things that have or might happen.  Mouse is an exceptionally bright child who is passionately interested in science–especially the solar system–and has an imaginary friend named Bing.

The three children (and Bing) board the plane for Colorado consumed by anger, hurt, fear and confusion.  They irritate and embarrass each other as only family members can.  Mid-flight the plane encounters turbulence and it is then that the children are thrown into another Place altogether.  Their journey is one of confronting their individual fears and discovering the incredible strength of family.

In order to do this they must navigate obstacles such as a bird attack, a dishonest shopkeeper, border guards, bartering information for time, the temptation of what each thought was his or her ideal life, as well as time itself in a race for death or life.  They learn to put their trust in each other and to face the truths they have each been avoiding.

It is a book about love, second chances and the courage to live your life as yourself.  This book is a huge departure from most of Choldenko’s previous work–which has been primarily contemporary realistic fiction.  It is just as successful.  It is both a fun and a moving read.  If you like Gennifer Choldenko you will enjoy No Passenger Beyond This Point.

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