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The world of this book is so warm and inviting I want to curl up in it with a blankie and never come out. Science fiction isn’t necessarily my first-thought genre for “books with a lot of heart,” but that’s exactly what The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is. It’s about a diverse, somewhat misfit group of travelers aboard a ship whose job is to drill wormholes in space. The crew of the Wayfarer may be a ragtag bunch, but (deep down at least) they’re all good people who care about and respect each other. It’s the kind of ship where you can be your own brand of weird and accepted unconditionally.

I loved every single one of the characters, but my favorite was Kizzy, who reminded me of Abby from NCIS (who I also love—who doesn’t?). She’s a mechanic and knows how to fix just about everything on the ship, and her outlook on life is simultaneously cheerful and wacky. I tend more towards the Debbie Downer end of the spectrum, but I would love to cultivate some of that happy-go-lucky Kizzy mentality. She’s also really brave when it comes to protecting her crewmates, which is another thing I wish I were better at. (Because in a confrontation, you know I’ll be running away with my coat over my head for protection and leaving you for dead faster than you can say, “Back me up, girl!”)

Another element I’m not usually expecting when it comes to sci-fi is romance, but there are several relationships aboard the ship, all of them unique and stereotype-defying. Inter-species romance can be really hot! Who knew?

I need to find more books like this, where the conflict comes from outside and the main characters work together against it. There’s something so comforting about that, when everybody’s on the same side. I read plenty of books where people who are supposed to be united (spouses, parents and children, coworkers, etc.) end up hurting each other. It’s really refreshing to read about people (and other sentient beings!) who aren’t consumed with tearing each other down.

Find it at your library!

I might be a grown-ass woman, but I love books written for middle schoolers. Middle school may not be a time many people look back on with fondness (acne! training bras! nocturnal emissions!), but at least kids that age get the good stuff when it comes to books. I think the secret is they’re not really books *only* for middle schoolers, they’re books that are accessible to *all* readers. Or so I tell myself, so as not to feel like a creeper when I, as a 31-year-old woman with no children and thus no built-in excuse, go trolling like a preteen for fairy tales and stories with dragons.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is perfectly perfect. It’s exactly what I wanted—a heartwarming read that helped me escape from life for a little while. There’s escapist reading that is dark and twisted and guilty-pleasure-y, and then there’s escapist reading like this, which takes you on an adventure, maybe makes you worry about the characters a bit (you’ve grown to like them so much, after all), but ultimately proves that your heart was in good hands the whole time. There’s a kindly old witch, a spunky, sprightly girl, a swamp monster who loves poetry, and a teeny tiny dragon who thinks he’s a giant. There’s also a group of controlling mansplainers who have kept the town in terror for generations, but they’ll get their comeuppance, don’t you fret.

Middle grade books always reassure me that even though there’s bad in the world, there are forces of good working against it. I find myself needing that reminder a lot lately. If you could use that kind of encouragement too, consider this book my gift to you. Love wins, people.