The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I (#2) by Carolyn Mackler

Published: 29th May 2018 (print)/29th May 2018 (audio) Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books /Recorded Books
Pages: 304/7 hrs and 51 mins
Narrator: Laura Knight Keating
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

It’s been five months since sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves thought her life was finally back on course: she has come to terms with who she is both inside and out, and she’s even started to rebuild her relationship with her older brother Byron, whose date-rape charge completely shattered everything.

But just as she’s getting used to the new normal, Virginia’s world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy Welsh the Fourth fade, her best friend Shannon bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron.

As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Sebastian, an artist with his own baggage. The pair make a pact not to share their personal dramas. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs have the potential to ruin everything.

This sequel was published in 2018 so it’s clear after updating Virginia’s story Mackler felt compelled to keep the story going, either that or the compulsion for a sequel prompted a revision of the first. Either way it’s not a bad addition by any means, it’s the same characters and the tone is similar to the first book which works in its favour.

Plot wise I enjoyed that there were ongoing outcomes and consequences from the events in the first book. It’s only a few months later and it’s a nice reminder that things aren’t solved and wrapped up neatly at the end of a book. Having said that you don’t need to have read book one as the events previous are recounted fairly seamlessly, and the continuation of the story means nothing much has been happening in between.

There’s still talk around the sexual assault, and the fatphobia and body images aren’t gone which adds realism and believability to a story that previously tried to fix things a little too quickly. Previous characters return, some with more depth than before, and new antagonists bring conflict and a different type of drama.

I liked the introduction of Sebastian and how Mackler navigated it between Virginia and the bigger story. I would have been annoyed if they got close later in the book but the fact they become friends and maybe something more early on was a good distraction for Virginia and it allowed something to be only hers for a while. Of course it also allows for a bigger impact once all the secrets come out, classic storytelling. But Mackler handles it well and I liked how Sebastian and Virginia managed their relationship around the drama.

Virginia is once again shameless about her infatuations and her list. I also liked her approach to her brother and how she never really lets him off the hook for his actions. Trying to navigate that relationship now allows more growth for her, which is good as it shows there’s always more growing to do.

There are further reminders of the super-rich lifestyle as we delve into country clubs and nannies and it is very telling given how her parents react that there is a lot at stake about keeping up appearances and hoping things blow over around certain indiscretions. But overall it was an enjoyable story and satisfying to see further developments in Virginia’s story.

You can purchase The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible