With her dad living across the country and her brother about to bolt for college, 12-year-old Winnie masterminds a 3000-mile road trip to reunite her family. Her brother hasn’t seen their dad since transitioning to his true gender but begrudgingly agrees to the trip for Winnie. Facing mechanical troubles, natural disasters, and mansplaining stranger danger, Winnie’s plan to bring her family back into orbit implodes, leaving her wondering if she can be the gravitational field holding them together or if they’ll end up light years apart.
My door squeaks as my brother’s dark silhouette tries to sneak into our bedroom. I hide a smile under my blanket, pretending to sleep.
Phoenix will get it now.
He pauses in the doorway, his shoulders broader than I remember, and for a moment I worry it isn’t him but a burglar. Then he runs a hand through his curly hair, and I relax. Grandma used to call us “the scrawniest girls in the world” as she served us pie after pie, but she was as wrong about my brother being a girl as the rest of us.
Phoenix pushes the door open another inch to squeeze through. Big. Mistake.
A bucket above the door tips, sending a marble down a funnel, into a tube. My brother freezes, tilting his head toward the clattering, before the marble hits the first domino. Dominoes fall with a steady click, click, click across the room, passing my bed like tiny tap dancers. The final one hits play on the turntable with a precision that took me hours to perfect.
In the dark silence, Phoenix seems to relax—until our room explodes with the high-pitched wail of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
“Winona, you brat!” He flips on the lights and lunging across the room to turn off the music.