Hello Universe Book Review and Summary

Hello Universe Summary and ReviewBook Summary: Hello Universe (Grades 3-6)

Order Hello Universe

This Newbery Medalist is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships. In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

Hello, Universe, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, is a remarkable novel that delves into the lives of four distinct characters, each navigating the complexities of childhood. The story is a vibrant tapestry of adventure, mysticism, and the journey of forming unlikely friendships. This book, winning the prestigious Newbery Medal, resonates with a broad audience, particularly middle-grade readers.


Plot Overview

Hello, Universe is a heartwarming tale set over the course of a single day, intertwining the lives of four middle schoolers. Virgil Salinas is shy and struggles to overcome his fears. Valencia Somerset, deaf and smart, battles with isolation. Kaori Tanaka, a self-proclaimed psychic, embraces her uniqueness and guides others with her insights. Lastly, there’s Chet Bullens, the school bully, whose actions inadvertently bring the other three together.

The story unfolds with Virgil’s quest to express his feelings for Valencia, guided by Kaori’s mystical advice. However, an encounter with Chet leads to Virgil being trapped in a well. This sets the stage for an unexpected rescue mission, where Valencia and Kaori play crucial roles. The narrative gracefully switches perspectives, providing a deep understanding of each character’s inner world and their struggles.

Throughout the day, each character confronts their personal challenges and fears. Virgil learns to find his voice, Valencia discovers the power of friendship, and Kaori’s beliefs are put to the test. Chet, on the other hand, confronts the consequences of his actions. The culmination of these individual journeys leads to a dramatic rescue and an affirming conclusion about the power of connection and bravery.

Main Characters

  • Virgil Salinas: A shy and kind-hearted boy, Virgil is often underestimated by his peers. He harbors a secret crush on Valencia and seeks to overcome his introverted nature.
  • Valencia Somerset: Valencia is a smart, resourceful girl who, despite being deaf, is fiercely independent and yearns for true friendship.
  • Kaori Tanaka: A quirky and confident girl, Kaori believes in astrology and psychic predictions, using her unique worldview to help those around her.
  • Chet Bullens: Chet is the antagonist of the story, a bully whose actions inadvertently bring the other characters together and lead to his own self-reflection.

In-Depth Analysis


  • Diverse Character Representation: Kelly’s characters are a refreshing mix of backgrounds and abilities, offering a rich and inclusive narrative.
  • Engaging Plot: The story is beautifully paced, balancing suspense and emotional depth.
  • Strong Themes: The novel excels in themes like courage, friendship, and self-acceptance.


  • Limited Antagonist Depth: Chet’s character could have been explored more deeply to provide a better understanding of his motivations.


  • Cultural Diversity and Disability Representation: The book stands out for its sensitive portrayal of diverse cultures and a main character with a disability.

Literary Devices

  • Multiple Perspectives: The shifting viewpoints provide a comprehensive understanding of each character’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Symbolism: Objects like Virgil’s guinea pig and Valencia’s hearing aid symbolize larger themes of vulnerability and resilience.

Relation to Broader Issues

The book touches on universal issues like bullying, disability inclusion, and the importance of empathy in diverse societies.


Potential Audience

Ideal for middle-grade readers, especially those interested in stories of friendship and personal growth.

Comparisons with Similar Works

Hello, Universe can be likened to R.J. Palacio’s Wonder for its focus on young characters overcoming personal challenges and forming unlikely friendships.

Final Recommendations

A must-read for its heartwarming narrative and profound themes, Hello, Universe is a testament to the power of kindness and courage.

Thematic Analysis

The novel skillfully addresses themes of bravery, self-acceptance, and the significance of communication in building relationships.

Stylistic Elements

Kelly’s narrative style is engaging, with a balanced mix of humor, emotion, and suspense.

Comparisons to Other Works

Similar to Bridge to Terabithia and The Thing About Jellyfish, it explores the complexities of young friendships and personal growth.

Test Questions with Answers

  1. What is the significance of Valencia’s hearing aid in the story? Answer: It symbolizes her resilience and independence despite her disability.
  2. How does Virgil’s character evolve throughout the novel? Answer: Virgil grows in confidence and learns to face his fears, ultimately finding his voice.
  3. What role does Kaori play in the lives of the other characters? Answer: Kaori acts as a guide, helping them confront their challenges through her unique perspective.

Reputable Sources

  1. Newbery Medal Award
  2. Common Sense Media Review


  • Newbery Medal (2018)

Detailed Bibliographic Information

  • Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • ISBN: 978-0062414151

Summary of Other Reviews

  • Goodreads: Average rating of 4.1/5 stars.
  • Amazon: Highly positive reviews praising the character development and narrative.

Details About the Book Series

Hello, Universe is a standalone novel with no direct sequels, but Erin Entrada Kelly has written other books with similar themes.

Other Media Formats

Currently, there is no information about a film or TV adaptation of Hello, Universe.

Information About the Author

Erin Entrada Kelly is a Filipino-American author known for her middle-grade novels. She has received several accolades for her work, including the Newbery Medal.