"The Quantum July"
(Reviewed by Kirstin Merrihew JAN 28, 2008)
Thirteen-year-old Danny Parsons belongs to an eccentric family. His father is an underachiever with some training in Eastern esoterica. His ambitious mother took a degree in particle physics in college and now wants to put it to use. Enigmatic Simon, Danny's older brother, has some dark corners; and his younger sister, Bridget, isn't quite Einstein, but she's close.
Escapist Danny decorates his room's walls with elaborate alternate lives he could live, and he daydreams about exploits he could undertake. At school Danny is known as "the space cadet," and he secretly worries that, like his Harvard-educated, stock boy father, he may drift aimlessly in life.
But, observant Bridget knows Danny is very special; she is convinced he's some kind of human conduit for coalescing change on a cosmic level. She tries to give her brother an explanation for his ability to " 'unleash the power of the quantum world' " or, in his father's words, " 'ride the energy.' " She feeds him facts about quantum theory. She tells him about Schroedinger's cat, a famous thought experiment that illustrates a law of the quantum world called superposition...or, in layman's terms, "Until you look, both exist."
Danny longs to understand this weird concept because he thinks he is experiencing some major superposition of his own: he has seen another version of his father in their barn. Soon after this encounter, Danny experiences more and more superposition. Different realities bring different and drastic consequences to his family, and Danny concludes he must try to reintegrate these shifting alternate existences. Perhaps his strange talent -- which blew up a shed on their property because he touched a blackboard formula -- is the Parsons' only hope when their family splinters and tragedy befalls them.
Author Ron King assumes for the sake of The Quantum July that superposition and other aspects of quantum reality can manifest in the macro world, a notion current science bars. But he has a lot of fun posing the idea that it could. And readers young and old can enjoy his audacity in stretching the boundaries.
The Quantum July presents an rousingly imaginative and suspenseful story for young people (and adults) interested in science as well as Eastern meditation and visualization practices. It presents quirkily rounded characters with weaknesses and worries common to most of us -- although they can also represent types (e.g., scientific vs. spiritual). This, however, isn't only a sci-fi tale. It also bids readers to think about what binds families and what can tear them apart. And, Danny's questions about who he is and wants to be mirror concerns of real young people, even if their quests and resolutions aren't likely to rival his for extenuating drama.
- Amazon readers rating: from 4 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Quantum July at RandomHouse
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Quantum July (October 2007)
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- Seacoast Online interview with Ron King and article on the author
- TeensReadToo review of Quantum July
- NotRequiredReading review of Quantum July
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About the Author:
Ron King is an English teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas school in Dover, New Hampshire. When he is not working, King spends all of his time outdoors with his sons, camping, hiking and playing sports. He lives his wife, their three sons, and the family dog in Newcastle, New Hampshire.