PW #337: Young Adult Contemporary #ownvoices: ASTRONOMY IN REVERSE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Jenny Chou

Mentee Name: Rachel Simon


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary #ownvoices

Word count: 65,000


Penny’s determined autism won’t hold her back from majoring in astronomy at Harvard, but her plans implode when she’s rejected. Then her team loses the Science Bowl. Her mom suggests a safety school and (ugh) living at home. Worries about a future far from her BFF lead to a major fight. Senior year’s messier than Penny ever imagined as she struggles to find her place in a world that doesn’t always make sense to a girl on the spectrum.


I lean back in my spinny desk chair as my mouse hovers over the “send” button. I stare at it before breathing in and out.

I can do this.

After all, Harvard is where I want to go, where I can see myself completely. Last year on the tour, it felt like my place, especially when I learned that Harvard is older than calculus, a fact I got to bring to my AP Calc class. A big school with good programs in a city that isn’t too big and not too far from home. Crisp familiar New England air. And at the alumni interview a few weeks ago, I didn’t trip over my words or tug my hair, even though I was wearing it down with a crimson headband. It was amazing to talk about science and girls in STEM – there are more of us now than ever, my interviewer reminded me.

I exhale again, grip my desk’s keyboard slot, place my wrists delicately onto it before opening Rose’s latest playlist for me (“Your Period Won’t Be The Only Crimson Thing You Wear Next Fall”), and hit play…then send. The rush of the music and my early action application hit like two stars coming together in a stellar collision, which only happens once every ten thousand years.

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