We All Looked Up
Summary:They always say that high school is the best time of your life. Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation, and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.
Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.
Reminiscent of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It, Tommy Wallach’s We All Looked Up is a riveting thriller that will engross you from start to finish with its deep philosophical roots and sophisticated writing.
Before, we let ourselves be defined by labels – the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed.
It’s senior year, and every student is just on pins and needles waiting for the school-year to end. Until it’s announced that asteroid is on a direct collision clash with Earth, with a 66.6% chance of destroying all life on the planet. Yet, through it all, 4 of these seniors – all completely different from each other – begin to bond, all as they wait for the imminent catastrophe to come.
I loved the exploration of labels and stereotypes within Wallach’s writing. Each of our four main characters are essentially high school stereotypes, yet he manages to make them more than simple stereotypes by giving them dreams, hopes and aspirations of their own.
- The Athlete: With a scholarship in his favorite sport to his dream school, Peter is ecstatic, except for one thing: he wants a girl he can’t have.
- The Outcast: Ever since she was labeled a slut, Eliza has been followed by vicious rumors and whispers; yet all she wants is to be remembered for something other than sleeping around.
- The Slacker: Andy doesn’t understand the fuss about careers and jobs – especially when news of the asteroid comes. All he wants is to get the girl he likes to notice him before it’s too late.
- The Overachiever: With her 4.0 GPA and the amount of college acceptance letters coming in the mail, Anita should be happy, but she isn’t. Because all Anita wants is to become a singer, something her parents have forbidden.
Can you imagine four individuals more different from each other? Yet, that’s what makes their friendship so touching and beautifully written. They are all willing to look beyond the labels and actually see what’s inside, and that’s what made it so wonderful.
After all, every life ended in apocalypse, one way or another. And when that apocalypse arrived, it would be a pretty cold comfort to think: “Well, at least I don’t have much to lose.” You didn’t win the game of life by losing the least. Real winning was having the most to lose, even if it meant you might lose it all. Even if it meant you would lose it all, sooner or later.
My only major complaint about We All Looked Up is the ending. While I am usually fond of the occasional open ending (i.e. in Flipped and The Giver), yet for some reason it just simply didn’t work for me here. I wanted a more solid ending, or at least some clarification on whether or not View Spoiler »the asteroid ends up killing life on Earth or not « Hide Spoiler.
Thought-provoking and deep, We All Looked Up is not only a pre-apoclyptic story, but a story about the labels we all wear.
The best books, they don’t talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you’d always thought about, but that you didn’t think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you’re a little bit less alone in the world.