Home: My Life in the Universe

Home: My Life in the Universe

By Author / Illustrator

Mark Ballabon, Grant MacDonald


Personal Growth

Age range(s)



Eminent Productions Ltd (EPL)




Paperback / softback




14-year-old Leah loves wilderness survival books. In fact, sometimes she wishes she could escape into the wild. Then she could get away from the body image obsession at school and the bullies who pick on her little brother, Aiden. As long as she could still braid her hair, she could definitely survive without home comforts... and she could explore her passion for stargazing.

But alone in the woods one night, Leah's life is transformed. She has the strangest sensation of gliding across the night sky, among millions of dazzling stars. This profound experience sparks a burning question in Leah that no one seems able to answer.  Desperate to broaden her horizons, Leah challenges herself to attend an international summer camp. Will the people she meets there, from her first love Sean, to formidable climate activist Kayleigh, help Leah find the answer to her question: what is 'Home'?

Author Mark Ballabon introduces Home: My Life in the Universe



My first thought on starting this novel was how much my KS4 Book Club from my last school would have loved this - they were always comparing star signs, as if this was a true predictor of the future. This story has so much more behind it; Leah's brother, Aiden, is experiencing bullying at school and Leah is keen to protect him. She herself is very self conscious. Her English teacher has managed to spark a creative writing quest within her before he leaves the school due to terminal illness. A random and somewhat psychedelic encounter with the stars one night in the local park sets Leah's personal journey off on a different tangent. She starts to question like she never has before; and she has always been an inquisitive teenager! Not the most confident of teenagers, she decides to grasp the opportunity of the international summer camp and all it offers, on the way encountering first love and youthful activism.

Leah is not a stranger to the spiritual aspects of life, her family befriended Maia after an encounter on the beach and she has become a guide for the whole family. Leah's dad is also full of sage advice.  

This book inspires whilst setting up so many questions within the reader's mind. It is beautifully produced and divided into windows not chapters each starting with a lovely illustration. The philosophical questions and themes within the text are perfect for young adult readers and I suspect once started, they will find this book hard to put down, as I (an aged adult) did too!

240 pages / Reviewed by Sharon Bolton, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


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