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We Are All Made Of Molecules
by Susin Nielsen
AR Test, Diverse Characters, LGBTQ
Stewart always wanted a sister. However, he never imagined that it would take his mother’s death, and his father moving in with his girlfriend before he got his wish. Plus Ashley isn’t anything close to being the sister of his dreams. She’s one year older than Stewart, and they have nothing in common.
Ashley is a typical mean girl whose only concern is staying at the top of the social ladder. So when her father announces that he is moving out because he is gay, Ashley fears that if any of her friends find out about her father’s gayness, it will ruin her social standing. Then when her mother’s boyfriend and son move in, Ashley’s anger ramps up even more. After all, Stewart is a total nerd.
We are all made of molecules is told from the points of view of Stewart and Ashley, who are both loveable in their own way. Stewart is a logical nerd who just wants to fit in. Ashley is a self-centered, angry teen who is trying to deal with the upheaval in her life. Having the story told by both Stewart and Ashley gives the book an interesting twist, because not only can the reader see each character’s thoughts and feelings, but the reader also sees how the two view each other.
Through Ashely’s experiences, the reader learns about the danger of drinking as well as the sexual dangers girls may face. In the end, Ashley realizes that outward appearances are not as important as she thought, and that nerdy Stewart may just know a thing or two about friendship.
We are all made of molecules is an easy-to-read, fun story that explores the messy relationships of parents. Ashley’s father reveals that he is gay, and his gay boyfriend appears. Ashley’s mother has her boyfriend and son move in. In the story, the group of five is shown becoming a unique family unit.
- A subplot of the story is about Ashley’s divorced father, Phil, who has revealed that he is gay. In one scene, Phil tells Stewart, “I didn’t decide to be gay. It’s not something you choose.” They then discuss why Phil married Ashley’s mother and didn’t tell people he was gay until two years ago. Phil says, “I didn’t want to be gay. I grew up in a very conservative and strict religious family . . . I made myself believe I was straight.”
- Ashley sees her father kiss another man.
- In the locker room, Stewart, “sat quietly on one of the benches and tried not to stare, but it was impossible not to notice that almost every single guy in my class was well into puberty. They had hair in all the right places, and their you-know-whats actually dangled. . . Mine does not dangle. Mine is more like a protruding belly button.”
- Ashley watches an episode on TV about a guy that found out that, “he wasn’t the father of his girlfriend’s baby, and that the real father was the guy’s own brother.”
- Jared says to Stewart, “You have the hots for your stepsister, don’t you? Gross, Stewie, that’s verging on incest.”
- Ashley goes to Jared’s house and while there he pushed her onto the bed and tried to take her shirt off. “I grabbed his hands, but he kept yanking . . . I tried to move, but he pinned my arms down. When I looked at his face, it was as if he’d gone somewhere else. It was like I wasn’t even there . . .He was pulling at my shirt and my skirt at the same time.” Then the housekeeper comes in and Ashley leaves.
- At a party, Ashley is passed out on her bed. After Jared and his friend make sure Ashely was completely out of it, Jared pulls up her shirt and takes a picture of her in her bra. Jared then pulls up her skirt and takes a picture of her underwear.” Then Stewart shows up and runs off with Jared’s phone and calls the police.
- When some of the students at school find out that Ashely’s father is gay, one of the characters says, “I think it’s so cool that your dad is gay. It’s so . . . twenty-first century. Very cutting-edge. Ashley is then invited to the LGBT club. Ashley says, “But I’m not gay. Or lesbian, or bi, or transatlantic.”
- Stewart tries to hide in the locker room because he doesn’t want to take a shower with the other boys. When Jared notices him, he “grabbed my gym shorts and yanked them down around my ankles . . .Then suddenly he grabbed hold of my boxers and I realized with sphincter-tightening horror that he was about to pull them down.” Then the teacher walks in and Jared leaves.
- When Jared sees Stewart in the locker room, he again tries to pull his pants down. Stewart was prepared and wearing a wrestling uniform. Then Jared, “Yanked my T-shirt up and over my head. I couldn’t see a thing. I felt his hand grab one of the straps of my wrestling uniform and pull it down . . .” Before Jared can get the uniform off Stewart, Steward reveals that he is Ashley’s brother and Jared stops.
- Stewart is wearing the school bulldog mascot costume and scares Ashley. “She started pummeling me . . . She started kicking me. I tried to shout, but my voice was muffled, and her screams drowned me out.”
- Jared was kicked out of a private school. He said he, “dealt with someone who needed dealing with. Guy was a colossal turd, and everyone knew it.” Later in the story, it is revealed that in the locker room, Jared beat up the guy because he was gay. “Then I saw him looking at my junk after our final game, so I punched him . . . stupid faggot.”
- Jared said that Ashley was a, “total tease. All she’s let me do is squeeze her tits a few times. Outside her clothes . . . I’ll break that bitch down.”
- Stewart remembers a time when a little boy was throwing rocks at him. The little boy’s mom and Stewart’s mom got into an argument. “That’s when my mom picked up a stone and threw it at [the kid]. Not hard, but still; I couldn’t believe my eyes . . . Then she threw a second stone.”
- Stewart is dressed up as the school mascot when Jared comes up to him and talks badly about Ashley. When Jared walks onto the basketball court, Steward, “was working on pure fury when I ran onto the court and plowed my dog-head into Jared’s stomach . . . I ran behind him and pulled his gym shorts, along with his underwear, down to his ankles.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Jared invites Ashely over to his house. Jared drinks a beer and Ashley has a wine spritzer.
- Ashley has a party. Some of Jared’s friends show up. “They were carrying bottles of vodka and rum and stuff, probably stolen from their parents’ liquor cabinets.”
- One of the characters describes her family as FUBER. Then she explains the term is a military term that means, “’Effed Up Beyond All Recognition,’ but in the military, they don’t say ‘effed.’”
- Ashley called a girl’s mother a “skank.”
- When her mother’s boyfriend compliments the pasta, Ashley thinks, “which was a total butt-kiss because the pasta was just so-so.”
- Ashley describes her mom’s boyfriend as having, “MPAL (Male Pattern Ass Loss, a tragic and devastating syndrome in aging men.”
- When Ashley finds out Stewart is in the same English class as her, she thinks, “OH MY GOD . . . This cannot be happening.”
- Ashley said she had a “crappy day.” She also tells her friend that a pair of jeans makes her “ass look fat.”
- Profanity is not used frequently, but it is scattered throughout the book. The profanity includes: hell, ass, bitch, pissed, slut, faggot, shit.
- Stewart thinks about his dead mother. “Even though the scientific part of my brain tells me she probably isn’t looking down on me from heaven, and that all that is left of her is random molecules, I feel a deep need to do this for her.”