Melissa Keil (Life in Outer SpaceThe Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, The Secret Science of Magic).

Melissa Keil’s career was launched when she won the Ampersand Prize, an initiative of Publisher Marisa Pintado of Hardie Grant Egmont.

This book is one of the rare breed of ‘pick me up at your peril because you won’t be able to put me down’ books. Luckily I read it when I was away for the school holidays.

In the beginning I had to keep stopping and scribbling down lines because they just wowed me. As time went on I just inhaled these beautiful images, one after another.

The only thing to stop me was when the POV swapped with the chapters and occasionally I would realise I was in the wrong head!

I’ve picked out a few of the scribbled sentences or paragraphs that really captured the characters and the emotion of the book for me.


Chapter one begins;

A basic theory of particle physics states that every atom in existence has already lived life as a billion other things. Nothing – not a single particle in the universe – is new. So it’s entirely possible that the atoms you breathe have passed through the heart of a star, or the pee of a dinosaur.

My bedroom is mine, unlike the rest of my life, which feels like it was built for a person whose existence is, at best, theoretical.

The movement jolts the mouse, kicking my computer to life. I notice, with a little heart-jump, that there is a solitary email sitting in my inbox.

Neither one of us is a hugger, nor a crier. But for some reason, Elsie’s fleeting grip makes me want to sit right down on the boggy grass and wail.

I peer nervously up at the house again. It remains silent; and yet I can practically feel his energy barrelling towards me.


Suddenly, I’m struck with this awful realisation – like I’ve dangled my heart on a parlour rope, and she hasn’t even noticed that it’s out there swinging.

But I can still see her face, gloomy and defeated, and nothing, no matter how big, feels like it could possibly be enough.

‘But Sophia, for whatever it’s worth – you don’t always have to be nice for me to like you.’

I felt a strong connection with these awkward yet beautiful teenagers. Not just as a creative introvert with a daily 30minute extravert lifejacket. The characters are so clearly brought to life, their flaws and doubts so recognisable and yet so raw. Every time they became close I hardly dared breathe unless I scared them away.

Ps My kooky brain read the whole book thinking Sophie’s friend’s name was Elise not Elsie. She will always be Elise to me.

Have you read this book or another by Melissa Keil? What did you think?

I’d love to know.