CATEGORY: Children

PAGES: 288

TRIM SIZE: 5.5 x 7

ISBN: 978-1-61620-570-6

LIST PRICE: $16.95


CATEGORY: Children

ISBN: 978-1-61620-715-1

LIST PRICE: $16.95


A rich and moving story about how one girl’s celestial-sized dreams for a future on Mars go heartbreakingly awry when an unexpected diagnosis threatens her future.

Things Mischa “Ish” Love will miss when she goes to Mars: lying on the living room floor watching TV, ice cream, her parrot Buzz Aldrin. Things Ish Love will not miss when she goes to Mars: mosquitoes, heat waves, missing her former best friend Tig.

Ish is convinced that she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to—and been rejected from—the Mars Now project forty-seven times, but the mission won’t leave for ten years and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again (not that she’d ever admit that to anyone, least of all herself). When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have—and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the vast universe.

In this story perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and The Thing About Jellyfish, Karen Rivers has once again created an unforgettable narrator who will pull readers into her orbit and keep them riveted until the very last page.


"Mischa’s unique voice and way of perceiving the world are consistently absorbing, and her additional struggles with losing her best (and only) friend and coming to terms with being adopted expand it far beyond her illness . . . A star-bright story of love, courage, and unflagging spirit."
- Booklist, starred review

"A worthwhile and affecting odyssey."
- Kirkus Reviews

"This book packs an emotional punch . . . [A] heartbreaking and sharply wry tale about friendship, family, fate, and illness."
- School Library Journal

Read an Excerpt

As a planet, the Earth is mostly OK, I guess. It’s just not for me. You don’t have to try to change my mind. It won’t work! I know that there is plenty here that’s terrific. But none of it is enough. Like, it’s hard to argue against blue skies and puffy white clouds, fresh-cut lawns and cold, clear lakes, but these things are already on their way out. Thanks to global warming, the lawns are all dead and the lakes are drying up and the sky is polluted. We’ve wrecked it. Global warming is a real thing. You can pretend it’s not, but that’s just dumb. It’s science.

            There are still things that will make me ache inside from missing so much: ice cream and lying on the living room floor watching TV and my parrot, Buzz Aldrin. I know that I’ll lie in my dome, hearing nothing but the howling Mars wind, and I’ll miss the silvery-shivery sound the wind makes in the trees when I’m lying on my bed watching the shadows of those leaves moving around on my wall.

            I’ll miss jumping off our dock into the lake when the weather is really hot and the lake is cold (and not half-empty like it is right now because of the drought). It’s the best feeling in the world. There aren’t any lakes on Mars. Yet.

            But even though I love Christmas mornings and piles of library books, and lying in the hammock that Dad strung up between the porch rail and the mailbox post and looking up at the stars at night, I’m still going to do it. I have to do it. It’s what I was meant to do. I just know.

            Most people don’t get it, but in my mind, it’s no different from what the explorers did when they came to America. They didn’t know what they were in for. They definitely knew that they might not ever go home. So what’s the diff? Someone has to be first, that’s all. And if we don’t spread out to other planets, the human race will eventually just die altogether.

            Here’s something you might not know: We are all made of stars. Up until last week, I just thought that was another poetic lie, like you see in the dentist’s waiting room scrawled over a terrible painting of a night sky with the artsy-blurry kind of stars that make you feel like you need glasses. But according to Google, it’s an actual fact: Every element on our whole planet—on all the planets—was created by imploding stars. People talk about how God created the world but really, the stars did. The stars are God. And we are stars. Think about it.

            Why do we think that what we look like and what we wear matters at all, given that we’re celestial? It doesn’t! Who cares who you sit beside when you eat your sandwich at lunch? Why does it feel like it matters when Amber Delgado laughs at you in gym class when you fall off the uneven bars and practically break your neck on the mat? Those are all just lies that our brains trick us into thinking are important so we don’t remember that even though we’re made of dead stars, we’re alive, and one day, we’re going to die, too.

            I bet they just left the word dead off the poster and the coffee cup because death freaks people out. But everyone dies. What’s the big deal? Life is a one-way trip for everyone. Right this second, your cells are slowly falling apart and you are that much closer to being dead, to being finished with your story. Don’t you want yours to be amazing?

            I do.

            I believe those stars didn’t die so that we could have boring jobs so we can afford to buy a bunch of stuff that we later throw away, overflowing the landfills so bad that we have to leave the planet, which is exactly what’s happening. It’s already happened. Mars is the only option. Everywhere else is just too far. You might think that we can clean up the Earth and save the day, but no one is doing it. They are all just looking at their phones and complaining about the weather and not doing anything to undo the damage that’s been done! It’s a travesty.

            And it’s also why Mars is so important.

            Everyone’s scared, but not me. I’m ready. I was made for this. Mischa Love (Dead star #7,320,100,901), reporting for duty. I’m not going to waste this amazing, incredible life that the stars gave me. I’m going to be brave. I’m going to be special. I’m going to do what everyone else is scared to do.

            And I’m going to be first in line to do it.

            You’ll see.

Meet the Author

Karen Rivers has written novels for adult, middle-grade, and young adult audiences. Her books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she's not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usually be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny, old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, two birds, and two fish.