Alex Woods: A Coming-of-Age Story Rooted in Friendship

A meteorite strikes, changing lives. A mother tells the future. A boy battles seizures. An old curmudgeon walks a dog named after Kurt Vonnegut. Mix in some marijuana, a fatal diagnosis, an unlikely friendship, and a journey borne out of love.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a coming-of-age story that is one of my favorite books of 2020. In his debut novel, Gavin Extence tells the story from a boy’s point of view as the bookish, bullied 10-year-old forges a seven-year friendship that leads him to incidents he never would have imagined. Extence creates a boy’s voice that reminds me of Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Not as dark, but equally observant of the world and the people around him. Laughs and tears guaranteed.