A 2021 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book
Quintessence is an extraordinary story from Jess Redman about friendship, self-discovery, interconnectedness, and the inexplicable elements that make you you.
Three months ago, twelve-year-old Alma moved to the town of Four Points. Her panic attacks started a week later, and they haven’t stopped—even though she’s told her parents that they have. She’s homesick and friendless and every day she feels less and less like herself.
But one day she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop, and through its lens, she watches a star—a star that looks like a child—fall from the sky and into her backyard. Alma knows what it’s like to be lost and afraid, to long for home, and she knows that it’s up to her to save the star. And so, with the help of some unlikely new friends from Astronomy Club, she sets out on a quest that will take a little bit of science, a little bit of magic, and her whole self.
This title has Common Core connections.
About the Author
Jess Redman is the author of The Miraculous, Quintessence, and The Adventure is Now. She is a former therapist who currently lives in Florida with her husband, their two young children, and an old cat named Soul Pie.
“A fanciful adventure with a rich emotional core and a fairy tale flair. An emphasis on Alma’s mental health and circular thought patterns proves an effective complement to the story’s magical elements, as her new endeavor and friends grant her the resilience to navigate her needs. Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, this is a clever, entertaining story with its own distinct identity.” —Publishers Weekly
“Redman’s writing shines [in] the portrayal of Alma’s mental health and its effect on her sense of self and on those around her. . .Reassuring, especially to kids struggling to articulate their own feelings in the face of lingering stigma about mental health.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A wildly imaginative tale full of wonder and hope that is grounded in our everyday world and the very real problems that today’s children face.” —Megan Frazer Blakemore, author of The Story Web
“A magical, wondrous book. . .The story is beautifully written and gave me chills almost constantly—with that magic-just-around-the-corner feeling.” —Gillian McDunn, author of Caterpillar Summer
“As bright and magical as a falling star, Quintessence is a beautifully told story that collided with my heart and set it aglow.” —Heather Kassner, author of The Bone Garden
“While firmly grounded in real-world issues, Quintessence shimmers with the perfect amount of magic. Redman’s deft, sympathetic portrayal of anxiety, a welcome and important addition to the middle grade canon, blends with scientific references to astronomy that are sure to engage young readers. Well-rounded, relatable, and resilient characters working together in a captivating setting make this the perfect read for fans of STEM and the stars.” —Sarah Baughman, author of The Light in the Lake