Geoff Rodkey’s We’re Not From Here (2019) begins on Mars as a small group of kids trade rumors they’ve heard about the fate of humanity. Earth is on the brink of destruction and the surviving humans must find a new home.
After securing permission to move to Planet Choom as refugees a small group of desperate humans enter biosuspension for twenty years, which is how long it will take them to get to what they anticipate will be a welcoming albeit completely alien new home.
The story is narrated by Lan Mifune and focuses on their family’s exploits.
As the humans slowly awake from biosuspension and prepare to enter Planet Choom they are shocked to learn the government will no longer accept them as refugees.
Planet Choom’s new government hesitantly allows Lan’s family onto the planet and they enter on their best behavior in a last-ditch effort to convince the Zhuri that they can all get along. The family deals with a very hostile environment, including a smear campaign, in this timely tale that hits far too close to home in its depictions of immigration, refugees, and panic politics.
This is a quirky page turner that never appears too grim despite its heavy subject matter, perhaps because it is told through the point-of-view of Lan, a child with a great sense of humor and uncanny knack to win over helpful friends. The characters and their relationships are nicely developed, and the action moves forward with a sense of urgency and cautious hope. I highly recommend to sci-fi fans 8 and up.
* I read this book for the Cybils Awards Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category. I am a round one judge.