Published: April 7, 2020
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One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.
When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light, and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of bringing them closer, it feels like the wave has torn the sisters apart.
Hannah is a secret poet who wants to be seen, but only knows how to hide. The pain pills she stole from her dead father hurl her onto the shores of an addiction she can’t shake and a dealer who turns her heart upside down. When it’s clear Hannah’s drowning, Mae, a budding astronaut suddenly launched into an existential crisis—and unexpected love—must choose between herself and the only family she has left.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In 2014 I won a giveaway for a book by Heather Demetrios called I’ll Meet You There. I was familiar with her work because I had already read her debut, Something Real, and had fallen on love but I’ll Meet You There was something else entirely for me. I loved that book with every fiber of my being and I have read it 7 times since, sometimes twice a year. I consider it a perfect book and is one of the few I crave a reread of. Honestly I wasn’t sure Heather could reach that level for me again and then I read Little Universes. And man did she blow me away with this story.
Little Universes is a very emotional read. I cried for probably about 70% of the 480 page book. It’s the story of California native sisters, Hannah and Mae Winters, who’s lives change when a tsunami hits the island their parents are vacationing on. Soon it is clear they won’t be coming back and the sisters are forced to move across the country, to Boston, to live with their aunt and uncle. Not only do the girls have to grieve the loss of their parents and the life they knew while navigating a new place. But they also have to manage the secret they have been holding on to…Hannah has an addiction to pain pills. Between that and a secret about their parents they didn’t know these two sisters are on an emotional journey one that you won’t soon forget.
Hannah and Mae broke me. Each girl was dealing with so much together and on their own and they broke me. I was in tears over the loss of their parents. I was in tears over the loss of their relationship. I was in tears over Hannah’s self-worth. I was in tears over Mae being unable to fix everything like a math equation. These two sisters had stories that needed to be told even if they crushed me. But I loved every minute of it.
Little Universes has a lot of trigger warnings; abortion, addiction, death, sex, drug use and cheating. But it is a lot more than those things. It is a book that is about grief and sisters and love and self esteem. It is about learning you are enough even when you don’t feel like you are. It is about learning not everything can be solved like an equation, not everything is fixable. It is a story that will stick with you whether you have a sister or not. I may not read it a bunch of times like I’ll Meet You There (my heart can’t handle it) but I will recommend it just as much. Make sure you add this one to your TBR.