The Many Worlds of Albie Bright is an award winning science-fiction novel by Christopher Edge. The book has been thoroughly researched and makes reference to a multitude of scientific concepts. I’ll be honest, scientific concepts baffle me. I’m one of these people that accepts that the world is round, but then fails to understand how we can all be the right way up when Australia is clearly upside down on a globe.
Albie’s parents are scientists and usually have all the answers. But after Albie’s mother dies the answers seem to dry up. When Albie’s dad mentions quantum physics and that numerous versions of ourselves can exist in parallel universes, Albie sets out to find the universe where his mum is still alive. Behold the Quantum Banana Theory - a cardboard box, a banana (that is ever so slightly radioactive), mum’s old laptop and a Geiger counter. Oh, and let me not forgot a test subject - Dylan, the next door neighbours psychopathic cat. Albie embarks on journeys to several parallel universes and along the way he meets bad Albie and female Albie (Alba) along with different versions of the the most popular girl in school, Victoria Barnes.
I learnt more from Albie in the first few pages of this book than I did in all my Science lessons at school. I could definitely do with visiting CERN, or as Albie refers to it, “Disneyland for scientists,” which makes it sound like a lot more fun. Edge makes learning about scientific concepts exciting and this book should be embedded in the year 5 & 6 Science curriculum at every primary school as it would only serve to enrich the teaching of science and broaden the minds of all children. What Edge achieves in 191 pages is superb; a heart-felt story about a boy searching for his mum in all corners of all the universe, he deals with grief and loss in a sensitive way and creates a buzz about science.
The read is the perfect antidote for any child who is struggling with loss. Losing anything can be tough for a child to come to terms with but losing a parent is the ultimate. Edge carefully navigates the reader through the complexities of grief and does it with such a lightness of touch that you laugh and cry. The book helps the reader understand how we can all find hope when everything seems to be lost and that it is ok to let go of things that we hold so close. Despite the grief that Albie is dealing with, he has a wonderful sense of humour and the book has many funny moments. Being a primary school teacher one of my favourite moments was when Albie refers to a newly qualified teacher (NQT) as Not Quite A Teacher. I only wish Albie had been my science teacher, perhaps in another universe he was or is.
The final few pages hit me as hard as one of Wesley MacNamara’s punches (probably the 100th punch in the exact same spot to be more precise). I completely wasn’t expecting the events that unfolded and I had to reread the pages several times so the words could sink in.
I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified that several versions of myself could exist in different parallel universes. Whether I have a better understanding of quantum physics or not after reading this book is debatable. As American physicist Richard Feynman said, “If you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t understand quantum physics”. Ultimately it would seem that some things are just best left as they are. What I do know is this, after reading this book my life in this universe feels richer for it.
“You only find out what is possible by trying to do the impossible.”
Recommended for 9+.