Eleven-year-old Jameson O'Malley's dad is on Mars. The only way to see him, other than squinting into the night sky, is through the JICC - short for Jameson's Interplanetary Communication Console. Jameson thought the JICC would help shorten the millions of miles that stretch between Base Ripley and Mars, but he's is starting to realize no transmission can replace his real, actual father. When a new family moves onto Base Ripley, Jameson makes an unlikely friend in Astra Primm, daughter of the country's leading climatologist, who died in an explosion on Mars. But as Jameson's friendship with Astra grows stronger, he begins to notice the flaws in his own family. Mom is growing distant, and something is wrong with Dad. He's not sending transmissions as frequently as he used to, and when he does there are bags under his eyes. Jameson begins to realize there's more to the story than he knows - and plenty people aren't telling him. Determined to learn the truth and discover what happened to their parents, Jameson and Astra embark on a journey exploring life, loss, and friendship that will take them to the edge of their universe.
"Earth's orbit is dying; the sun's heat has killed 49 percent of the population, and humanity needs a new planet to call home. A series of Mars missions have been deployed for this purpose, and fifth-grader Jason's dad is a member of the first. Jason lives with the other families of mission astronauts on Earth's Base Ripley, where he desperately wants a friend. Could Astra, the new girl across the street, be that person? At first, their friendship is tenuous because Astra is grieving over her mother's death on Mars Mission 6, but when Jason grows concerned about his father's well-being, their bond solidifies into something real. After Jason's attempts to communicate with his dad fail, he decides to sneak aboard a spaceship with Astra to find out what's happened. Elements in the book (loss, grief, anger, friendship, family dynamics, climate change, and space exploration) combine to make this a captivating read. Strong character development and plotting keep the pages turning as the two friends risk all for each other.--J. B. Petty Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.