I really liked The Universe versus Alex Woods, it reminded me in a way of another recent favourite, The Rosie Project, both books have young(ish) male protagonists who feel apart from the majority. In the case of Alex Woods, he has a single mother who runs a shop selling tarot cards and the like, he was hit on the head by a meteorite and he now has epilepsy. He gets bullied at school and in the village where he lives and on one such occasion he escapes into the garden of Mr. Peterson, an elderly Vietnam vet and after a rocky start they become friends.
Books of course should entertain but I think it’s important that some books should also educate and comfort and this is one such book. I can easily imagine this book being a source of support to many teenage readers who are going through some of the issues that Alex experiences; epilepsy, feeling different, being bullied, being a child of single parent where you don’t know who the father is, terminal degenerative illness, suicide attempts and assisted suicide. Obviously not many teenagers will have direct experience of the latter but in that point it educates, talking through, in a completely non preachy way what happens and why. Saying all that makes the book sound really grim but it is absolutely not, there were many points in the book where I laughed out loud, there was a point where it reduced me to tears to but it was worth it because it was a really beautiful book.
***** out of 5