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PW #211: Middle Grade Historical Fiction (Neuro-diverse, Own Voices): PLANET EARTH IS BLUE

Thursday, 3 November 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Ellie Terry
Mentee Name: Nicole Elizabeth Panteleakos
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Fiction (Neuro-diverse, Own Voices)
Word Count: 37,000


In ten days, Space Shuttle Challenger skyrockets into orbit. Which means non-verbal, autistic Nova has ten days to reach her missing sister, Bridget, so they can watch together as promised.


Bridget was gone.

And Nova was broken.

Nova hadn’t wanted to run away from the last foster family. They were nice enough. Sure, it wasn’t easy sharing one bedroom with four other girls in three sets of bunk beds. There was no privacy for Bridget, who liked her space, and there was no room for hand-flapping or bouncing, which Nova liked to do while pretending she was in space.

Plus there was a rule no shower could last more than eight minutes.

And they weren’t allowed to watch TV, listen to records, or drink anything with caffeine.

But there had been hot oatmeal in the mornings. Cold lemonade with lunch. Warm blankets at night. Nobody yelled bad words or spanked them with wooden spoons. Nobody made Bridget scrub the floors like Cinderella. Nobody called Nova “Dumbo” because she couldn’t speak. Most importantly, they were together.

Bridget hated it anyway.

“I’m out of here,” she kept saying. “I can’t stand another day. I’m losing my mind.”

Nova wasn’t worried then. She knew they’d end up somewhere else eventually.

When the time came, though, leaving was different. No social worker to transport them. No paperwork to sign. Bridget didn’t even glare at the failed foster parents and say goodbye. They just piled into a car and drove away. This was not their routine, which made Nova’s tummy hurt, because as much as she hated goodbyes, she hated deviating from the routine more.

“Don’t worry!” Bridget had kissed Nova’s forehead. “I’ll take care of you like I’ve always taken care of you.”

Now Bridget was gone.

And Nova was worried.

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