We All Looked Up

Hardcover | March 24, 2015

byTommy Wallach

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Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

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From the Publisher

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.They always say that high school is the best time of your life. Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattl...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.4 inPublished:March 24, 2015Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481418777

ISBN - 13:9781481418775

Customer Reviews of We All Looked Up

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I picked this up and expected it to be a book full of angst and whiny teenagers and while I got some of that, I also got so much more! I adored the characters, the way it was written in alternating POVs...I just could not put it down. I devoured this book!
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from OH MY GOSH I LOVE IT It's intense, played with my emotions, made me weep, made me life, made my heart melt, and I just fell in love with the plot and characters. READ IT!!!!
Date published: 2016-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Intoxicating and Stirring SCIFY Story "We All Looked Up" is an intense and gripping story that begins with a Presidential broadcast about an asteroid on a collision course with Earth that threatens the extinction of mankind within two months. Seen through the eyes of four teens - a jock, an outcast, a slacker and a nerd- the setting becomes all too real with the mounting violence, chaos and fear. Set in Seattle at Hamilton, a High School broken into factions, the students are stereotyped. Yet as the cataclysmic event draws closer and the school begins to be policed, the lives of four diverse students become entangled as if by fate. One of these is Eliza Olivi, a brilliant, reserved photographer who with one kiss in a dark room has been labelled a slut. Ostracized by the boy's self-absorbed and superficial girlfriend Stacy and her friends, Eliza haunted already by loss changes and embodies the tag she's been given. Popular and athletic Peter Roeslin unwilling to admit his infatuation with Eliza because it could upset his future plans suddenly awakens to the shallowness of his life becoming more self-aware and helping out at Friendly Forks. Anita Graves is a nerd dominated by parents with high expectations for her future while she yearns for a career in music. Talented, rich, aloof and defensive she finds a kindred spirit in her rebellion and love of music with a slacker- Andy Rowen. Disillusioned with life and caught up in partying, drinking, drugs and bad company, Andy gravitates towards the determination and ambitious Anita although he craves losing his virginity to Eliza. Together the four struggle through triumphs and failures, experiencing Pyrrhic victories, where winning is costly or could mean losing everything. The plot is well-developed and filled with twists and turns that escalate tension and suspense as Ardor draws closer to Earth. The mood is dark and dismal, realistic in a world facing annihilation. Yet Tommy Wallach dilutes the hopelessness with spurts of humor like Andy's futility in trying to win Eliza. Beautifully innovative and imaginative, the story blends violence, family dynamics, sexuality, ethnicity, and crime with love, compassion and friendship. Even in the end as people gather, praying for mercy, grace and forgiveness, there is a strong element of hope for the future . For a first novel Tommy Wallach's "We All Looked Up" is intoxicating and stirring as he explores the minds, hearts and spirits of four young people swept up in apocalyptic events that will impact not only their futures but that of humanity. I rate it highly.
Date published: 2015-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing new contemporary I am always curious about how books can blend reality and fiction into something that makes your eyes water and your heart sing. And oh my gosh, after reading We All Looked Up, it seems the boundaries between reality and fiction know no bounds for this book. It all starts when scientists discover an asteroid coming near Earth. At first, they say it’ll just pass us by and go on its merry way. But when it seems like there’s a huge possibility it will end up crashing into Earth, world as we know it is changed. Suddenly, four teenagers find themselves thrown together in unlikely odds. The jock, the lazy skateboarder, the smart one heading to Princeton and the girl with a bad reputation. In We All Looked Up, these kids struggle to find themselves and where they belong in the world. First off, I need to express my inner thoughts with a statement: HOLY MOLY YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. Now, I will try to coherently express my thoughts. You should know that these characters aren’t all likeable. I mean, I loved Anita and Peter, but other characters annoyed me at times and JUST WHY. But that’s the thing about teenagers, they have flaws and make really dumb mistakes so even though I might’ve disagreed with them sometimes, I actually felt like they were real. And if they actually were, I would have gave a serious lecture to some of these kids because -spoilers- The plot was amazing and I am still surprised at how well it worked in four different point of views. It was all magical and glorious. I felt like I was living in the same world as these kids, almost to the point where I thought what was happening to them was happening to me (and I’m glad it’s not). The romance is all shades of complicated (as with any standard high school story) but I loved it and how it turned out. I definitely recommend this book for people looking for an amazing new contemporary that will hopefully speak to their inner-existentialist and inner-teenager. Heck, I recommend it to everyone.
Date published: 2015-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from 3.5 stars! I really wanted to love We All Looked Up. I want books about the impending apocalypse to fill me with hope, sorrow, and longing. I want to be moved when I read a book about the end of the world. While I really enjoyed the story, I didn’t connect to this book’s characters the way that I wanted to, which prevented me from loving the book. I loved the novel’s premise, and really enjoyed seeing the way these four separate characters (Anita, Andy, Peter, and Eliza) became wrapped up in each other’s lives and how they all came together in a way that they might not have, if they weren’t dealing with a possible apocalypse. I’m not sure what it was, though, that held me back from connecting with the characters. I liked them and I wanted them to achieve the different goals they were working towards before the end of the world – but I felt somewhat removed, at arm’s length. Andy’s voice felt distinct, but I found that the other characters’ narrative voices sort of blended together and didn’t feel different from each other. I also enjoyed the way some of the secondary characters became more central to the story, particularly the way some of them became more menacing as the situation became more dire. There were issues surrounding loss of civil rights, looting, and violence, illustrating that the world can be an especially dangerous place when we all think it’s ending. I think I was surprised at the way the story seemed to skip ahead on occasion, sometimes days at a time, especially since things seemed to fall apart quickly. I was really looking to read more about the breakdown of society, since that’s part of what really intrigues me about apocalyptic stories, but I do realize that the focus here was on the characters, not necessarily on society or the world at large. But I thought that the characters themselves would perhaps react more to the larger societal changes, at least initially. I really liked the writing in this book, and would totally read Tommy Wallach’s future works. I also liked that the overall message I got out of the book was one of love, hope, and faith, and in a way I think that the story ended the only way that it really could. I didn’t fall in love with We All Looked Up, but I liked a lot of things about it. Recommended! (Received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review)
Date published: 2015-04-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The end of the world The end of the world.. An asteroid that will hit earth causing the end of the world. With 66.6% percent chance of hitting earth, four teenagers are trying to find out what to do with the six weeks of life they have left. Told in four viewpoints: we have the overachiever Anita, the slacker Andy, the all around golden boy Peter and the promiscuous Eliza. Having all four did provide an overall dimension to the entire story which I liked. But ultimately, I didn't really care much for Andy. He just seemed like he was making so many excuses for all the wrong and his best friend Bobo who is ultimately in need of help didn't add to that annoyance. He pretty much annoyed me to no end with his verses of "Yo!" Ugh. Then there's Anita and her parents, I felt like her story could have opened up a lot better what with it being the end of the world, why isn't she trying to forgive them? They don't know any better. Being Christian means the righteous will be okay, while the damned will not. Yep that's terribly un-Christian like behaviour. No one gets to judge another person that way. Then there's Peter who I felt was completely boring. Even though he finally gets the guys to stand up to to his girlfriend, he didn't have much of a story. He is the ultimate good boy and I did like that. I was just sad at what happened at the end. *sighs* Out of all the characters, I liked Eliza best. She was easily the most complex one and having a blog that goes viral made her seem like such a celebrity. With that amount of followers she had the power to speak her mind and I liked that she used photography to express herself. Her reasoning behind her ways is pretty straight forward, but once you get a reputation like that, it's hard to leave. The one fact that I hate about this is that it's other girls who shame each other. It's a terrible thing to see even if it's fictional. Other than their daily thoughts and woes for the future, I was bored through most of it. They did have minor romantic plots but ultimately the writing is decent, the characters formed enough to make it sad enough too. I liked this one, but I'm not highly recommending it because I felt like I wouldn't even remember if afterwards.
Date published: 2015-02-05

Extra Content

Read from the Book

We All Looked Up Peter “IT’S NOT THE END OF the world,” Stacy said. Peter looked down. He’d been staring vacantly at the sky, replaying his brief conversation with Mr. McArthur in his head. He still wasn’t sure what to make of it. “What?” “I said it’s not the end of the world. So one person doesn’t like you. Who cares?” “You really think he doesn’t like me?” Stacy groaned. They’d already been talking about this for fifteen minutes, which, in Peter’s experience, was about fourteen minutes longer than his girlfriend liked to talk about any serious subject. “I don’t know. Maybe he’s jealous of you or something.” “Why would he be jealous of me?” “Because, like . . .” She flipped her hair to one side of her head, then back again. Peter had never understood why she did that; maybe she’d seen it in a shampoo commercial or something. She did have great hair, though—a shoo-in for best in school, when yearbook time came around—long and latte brown, the same smooth, glossy texture as a basketball jersey. “You have all this potential, you know? Like your whole life in front of you. And he’s stuck in this shit school teaching the same shit history over and over again. If I had to do what he does every year, I’d probably end up hanging myself in a supply closet or something.” “I guess.” The thought had never crossed his mind, that a teacher might be jealous of a student. As a little kid, Peter had figured that once you reached a certain age, somebody just handed you all the knowledge you’d need in order to be an adult. But it turned out that wasn’t how it worked at all. Peter’s dad had recently admitted that even at the age of fifty-two, he sometimes woke up with the absolute certainty that he was only twenty-four, with his whole life still spread out before him like an untouched Thanksgiving dinner. It was just one of the many mysteries of getting older, along with male pattern baldness, midlife crises, and erectile dysfunction. Of course the only alternative to going through all that stuff, to slowly losing your looks and your teeth and your hair and finally your mind, was to bite the big one early, which nobody wanted to do. Mr. McArthur was bald. Maybe he had erectile dysfunction, too. And really, what right did Peter have to be pissed at some aging high school history teacher, when his own life was so freakishly, criminally good? In his three and a half years at Hamilton, he’d started on the basketball team four times. He’d been to state twice and nationals once. He’d lost his virginity to Stacy, been given a sweet Jeep for his sixteenth birthday, and ended up good and wasted at about a hundred crazy-fun parties. And now he was eighteen. In the fall, he’d be off to sunny California (technically, acceptance letters wouldn’t come until March, but the Stanford athletic department said he was as good as in). And seriously, how sick was college going to be? Pledging some frat and playing ball all over the country and partying with his teammates and frat brothers every weekend. Stacy would be sure to get into SF State, so they’d see each other all the time. Then he’d go pro if he were lucky, or else get into coaching or something, and he and Stacy would get married and raise some kids and hit up Baja or TJ over Christmas breaks and buy a kick-ass summer place on Lake Chelan with a Jacuzzi. That was what life was supposed to do, right? Just keep getting better and better? But Peter knew it wasn’t like that for everyone; he watched the news (or at least saw it out of the corner of his eye when his parents turned it on). People starved. People lost their jobs and then their homes. People came down with messed-up diseases and they had ugly divorces and their kids got in motorcycle accidents and ended up in wheelchairs. Maybe Mr. McArthur’s life had just been getting worse and worse since he left high school. Maybe he really was jealous. And if not, then what the hell point had he been trying to make in class? “Baby, stop worrying about it.” Stacy gave him a dry kiss on the cheek. “If I got all bent out of shape whenever someone didn’t like me, I’d be, like . . .” She thought for a few seconds, then shrugged. “I don’t know. Seriously bent out of shape.” “Yeah. You’re right.” “Of course I am. And I’m also starving. Come on.” It was chicken fingers day in the lunchroom, traditionally a day of joy (because the Hamilton chicken fingers were mad good). Peter loaded up his tray with two paper boats full of them, a lemon-lime Gatorade, a chocolate pudding, an apple, a granola bar, and a fingerbowl’s worth of wilted green lettuce and shredded carrot. He crossed the lunchroom, catching sight of his little sister’s newly dyed hair (the sink in their shared bathroom still looked like a leprechaun had thrown up and then died in it). She was eating lunch with her freak boyfriend over at the freak table. In his mind’s eye, Peter could still see a younger version of her sitting next to him on the living room couch, playing with her Legos, back before she transformed into something feminine and unfathomable. “Dude, you okay?” Peter looked up into the waving hand of his best friend, Cartier Stoffler. “I’ve already eaten, like, three of your chicken fingers.” “Yeah, sorry. I’m having a weird day. Something a teacher said.” “You in trouble?” “Not like that. It’s hard to explain.” “Here’s my trick with teachers, right? Don’t ever listen to them in the first place.” “Brilliant.” “It’s got me this far,” he said, then popped a whole chicken finger into his mouth. Peter laughed as convincingly as he could. Cartier was generally pretty good at cheering him up, but it was no use today. Mr. ­McArthur’s question had created a black hole that sucked in everything good around it. Or more like it made everything around it suck. Like, it sucked that high school was almost over. And it really sucked that Cartier had applied to WSU to study beer brewing instead of trying to go to college somewhere in California. They’d been friends since the first day of high school, so inseparable that Coach Duggie named them Cookies and Cream (Cartier, though black, insisted that he had to be the cream, on account of his smoothness). They’d shared their first bottle of beer, their first blunt, their answers to homework questions, and even, for a few weeks in tenth grade, Amy Preston, who managed to convince them it was perfectly normal for a girl to have two boyfriends at the same time. And sure, there’d still be the holidays—Thanksgiving and Christmas and the long, long weekend of summer—but it wouldn’t be the same. Already, they’d stopped hanging out as much as they used to. The most painful part of it wasn’t that they wouldn’t be friends, but that they wouldn’t even care that they weren’t friends. And if he and Cartier couldn’t manage to stay tight, then who was to say that he and Stacy wouldn’t break up too? Peter would be off playing away games every weekend, and she’d be left on her own. Would she really stay faithful to him? Would he stay faithful to her? Would any part of the past four years matter at all four years from now? These black-hole thoughts wouldn’t leave him alone for the rest of lunch period, but then there was chemistry and precalc to get through, followed by two exhausting hours in the gym, mindlessly running lines and doing passing drills on instinct. So it wasn’t until he found himself under the steaming beam of the locker-room shower that he really had time to think again. And there was Mr. McArthur’s question—“Would that be a Pyrrhic victory?”—stuck in his head like one of those crappy pop songs that you only knew the chorus to. He’d stop by the history department in Bliss Hall. If Mr. ­McArthur had already left for the day, then that would be the end of it. And if he hadn’t, well then at least Peter could get this dumb song to stop playing in his head. It was the last week of January, and in Seattle, that meant traitorously short days. You’d step into the gymnasium in full daylight, and by the time you got out, the sun would be slipping behind the horizon so fast you’d think it was getting away with something. Peter left the locker room just after six, and all that was left of the day was that fugitive red glow on the horizon. He zipped up his North Face jacket and put his hands in the fleecy pockets. His mom had bought him leather gloves for Christmas, but he’d stopped wearing them after Stacy said that they made him look like the kind of guy who offered to show children the lollipops he kept in his van. The only students left on campus were those who inhabited the extremes of the work-play spectrum: overachievers laboring late at the library and the skater/slackers who didn’t have anywhere better to go. You could hear the faraway click-snap-skittle of their skateboards even from inside Bliss Hall. Peter knocked on Mr. McArthur’s door, half hoping no one would answer. “Come in.” The office was so cramped that the door stuck on a footstool in the corner, and Peter had to squeeze through the gap. Mr. McArthur was on his own—his two office mates must have already gone home for the day—sitting in a brown plastic chair in front of a narrow desk piled high with ungraded essays. Peter had never felt confident in his ability to guess the age of anyone between twenty-five and sixty, but he figured Mr. McArthur was somewhere in his late forties; his forehead had a few permanent creases in it, but they didn’t make him look old so much as perpetually concerned. He was popular with the students, engaging but not pushy. Peter had always liked him well enough—until today anyway. “Hello, Mr. Roeslin. Make yourself at home.” “Thanks.” Peter sat down on a small sofa. A ragged stuffed bunny lay upside down on one of the cushions. Its once pink places had gone gray with age. Mr. McArthur wrote B+ on the essay he was grading, circling it twice. His pen wasn’t the typical felt-tip marker, but something slimmer and more elegant, with a diamond-shaped metal nib. He capped it and set it aside. “So how can I help you?” Peter hadn’t really thought through what he was going to say, and now the possibilities backed up in his head, tripped over themselves like a defense falling apart in the face of a solid drive. “I just, well, we were talking today, right? And you asked me this question about a sports star or something, and you were talking about stuff I do, you know? Or might do. I mean, I think you were. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about?” “I might,” Mr. McArthur said, with a patient smile. Peter idly patted the stuffed bunny, trying to remember exactly what had happened. They’d been learning about the phrase “Pyrrhic victory,” which came from Roman times and meant that you’d won something, like a battle, but in order to win, you had to lose so much that you really hadn’t won at all. Mr. McArthur asked the class if anyone could come up with some examples from real life. Nobody else was going for it, so Peter raised his hand and said that if you won a basketball game or a football game or something, but your best player got injured, that would be an example. Mr. McArthur nodded, but then he stared hard at Peter with the combined intensity of his earnest eyes and that inquisitorial forehead and said, “What about if you were a big sports star, and you made loads of money, and you bought big houses and you drove fast cars, but when your time in the limelight was over, you ended up unhappy because you didn’t know what the point of your life had been? Would that be a Pyrrhic victory?” He’d let the question hang out there, like some big old rainbow of a three-pointer. And then Andy Rowen said, “I’d take it anyway,” and the whole class laughed and they moved on to Caesar. But Peter couldn’t help thinking that Mr. McArthur was probably right: It would be a Pyrrhic victory. Because when the golden days were over, and you were lying on your deathbed, watching the instant replay of your life, wouldn’t it be pretty depressing to think you’d wasted your best years playing a game? That was the thought that had plagued Peter for the last six hours, though he didn’t quite know how to put it into words. Thankfully, Mr. McArthur finally came to his rescue. “Peter, I’m sorry if it seemed like I was criticizing you today. I like you. And I’ve seen a lot of popular kids go through this school. The ones at the top of the pile, I mean. Most of them let it go to their heads, but I don’t think you do.” Flattery embarrassed Peter; he looked over toward the wall, where an empty Advent calendar still hung, open windows counting down the days until Christmas. He’d expected a lecture from Mr. ­McArthur, not a recitation of his good qualities. “I guess.” “Most kids wouldn’t have given a second thought to what I said. So why do you think it’s made such an impression on you?” “I don’t know.” “Okay. Then let me ask you this—what is it that makes a book really good?” “I don’t really read that much. Outside of homework, I mean.” “Then I’ll tell you. The best books, they don’t talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you’d always thought about, but that you didn’t think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you’re a little bit less alone in the world. You’re part of this cosmic community of people who’ve thought about this thing, whatever it happens to be. I think that’s what happened to you today. This fear, of squandering your future, was already on your mind. I just underlined it for you.” Something inside Peter thrummed along with this explanation. “Maybe.” “It’s a good thing, Peter, to worry about having a meaningful life. Are you at all religious?” “I guess so. I mean, I believe in God and stuff.” “That’s some of it, then. Religion is all about making meaning for yourself. And you’ll have to excuse me if this is too personal, but have you ever lost someone? Someone close to you, I mean.” “Yeah,” Peter said, a little awed by Mr. McArthur’s intuition. “My older brother, a couple years ago. Why?” “My father died when I was very young. It forced me to confront things that many of my peers had the luxury of ignoring. The big questions. Does that sound familiar?” “I’m not sure.” Mr. McArthur left some space in the conversation, waiting to see if Peter would say more, then shrugged his caterpillar eyebrows. “My point, Peter, is that you’re one of those people who’ve been blessed not only with talent, but with self-awareness. And that means you get to choose what you want to do with your life, instead of life choosing for you. But having that power, the power to choose, can be a double-­edged sword. Because you can choose wrong.” “How do you know if you’re choosing wrong?” “You tell me. Do you think it’s better to fail at something worthwhile, or to succeed at something meaningless?” Peter answered before he realized what he was saying. “To fail at something worthwhile.” The implications of his answer hit him like an elbow to the sternum. Mr. McArthur laughed. “You look positively tragic!” “Well, you’re saying I should stop doing the only thing I’ve ever been great at.” “No. I’m not saying stop. I’m saying evaluate. I’m saying choose. You can ignore everything I said today if you want.” “Can I?” “I suppose that depends on what kind of man you want to be.” Mr. McArthur stood up and put out a hand. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Come talk to me anytime.” Peter stood up too. He was a few inches taller than Mr. McArthur, but he felt smaller than he had in years. They shook hands. As Peter was leaving, the teacher called out after him. “Hey, Peter?” “Yeah?” “The bunny.” Peter looked down. Sure enough, he was clutching the old stuffed animal in his left hand, so tightly that its face had been squashed down to a nub. “Sorry,” Peter said, and tossed it back onto the couch. Back outside, darkness had set in. Peter felt like a different person; his certainties had all disappeared with the daylight. Almost too perfect then, that the sky was suddenly unfamiliar: Against an eggplant-­purple backdrop shone a single bright star, blue as a sapphire, like a fleck of afternoon someone had forgotten to wipe away. Peter heard the click of a door opening nearby. Someone was coming out of the arts building, a swirl of multicolor scarf that he knew for a fact she’d knitted herself—Eliza Olivi. It was the first time they’d been alone together in almost a year. And it was happening today, of all days? What did they call that? Serendipity? “Eliza,” he called out. “Do you see that star? Isn’t that crazy?” But even though she must have heard him, she just kept on walking.

Editorial Reviews

"It’s a dark novel, particularly as things fall apart and stop working (many people abandon even important posts to be with their loved ones), but Wallach uses black humor, sharp literary references (Vonnegut gets some attention, for example), and startlingly beautiful moments of true kindness to balance the dismal aspects."