The Nubivagants

Children - Coming of Age
192 Pages
Reviewed on 07/30/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer) for Readers' Favorite

The Nubivagants by Ethan Furman is a stunning book that follows a young boy named Matthew Mitchell, who was born with the ability to float. His parents had made him wear gravity boots his entire life to keep his secret safe; however, Matthew had never really felt that he fitted in. But when the school bully, Chad, pulls off his gravity boots, Matthew floats away, only to discover the Nubivagants, a group of children just like him. Together with his new friends, he has the best time ever, playing bumper clouds, and watching lightning storms and rain. But when he floats over his hometown and sees his parents mourning him, all he wants to do is go back down. But how will he be able to get down if he keeps floating up?

I really, really enjoyed reading The Nubivagants by Ethan Furman. The story is very well written and descriptive. This book will have readers laughing, gasping, and even crying alongside the characters. This story will keep readers glued to their chairs, wondering what will happen next. I was hooked by the first page, and I never wanted to put the book down. It was absolutely thrilling from cover to cover. This story is great fun, and will keep readers fascinated as they follow Matthew's adventures. The occasional pictures are very well drawn and clearly depict each scene, as well as help to tell the story. The characters are likeable, as they are kind and friendly. I would definitely recommend this book to all readers.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Perhaps it really is better to be an individual, unique and different, and set off on one’s own. Except when there’s bullying involved. Matthew is very different. He was born with a unique condition. He floats. It frightened his parents and they devised ways to keep this unique condition hidden from the world. The family doctor helped by supplying gravity boots to keep Matthew earthbound wherever he went. Unfortunately, these gravity boots had to be on all the time, even in school, even when all of the other children were removing their footwear. And that’s when the teasing started, and the teasing turned into bullying. So Matthew, once a very happy boy, became sad and withdrawn, while the classroom bully, Chad, continually frightened him until one day Matthew fought back, a fight that ended with Chad and his goons removing Matthew’s gravity boots. Matthew left the bullies earthbound while his body floated higher and higher into the sky, to a place in the clouds where he discovered a group of children with the same condition, a group of children known as Nubivagants. Was this where Matthew belonged? Or did he belong back on earth with his parents in a community that would never accept nor understand his condition?

Ethan Furman’s Middle Grade novel, The Nubivagants, is a powerful story about differences, acceptances and belonging. Matthew, the main character, just wanted to be like everyone else; he wanted to be accepted, he wanted to belong. When he discovered the Nubivagants, he thought he had found a place where he could feel like he belonged and was accepted. But living in the sky with the Nubivagants, he missed his family. Was it really so bad in his home community? What would happen if he could go back?

The story is told mainly in narrative form, with very little dialogue, making it read like a parable. The story is presented as a telling of events in a young boy’s life. It reads well and it's a delightful story, with a lot of good, important lessons for young readers to learn as the reader journeys with Matthew on his road to discovering where he really belongs and why it's not such a bad thing to be different. The sci-fi/fantasy aspect will certainly attract young readers.

Jack Magnus

The Nubivagants is a coming of age novel for children and preteens written by Ethan Furman. Matthew Mitchell was like most other kids in that he wanted to belong; he most definitely didn’t want to be different. He didn’t have much choice about it, however, as he had been born with a special dispensation from the law of gravity that kept most humans safely tethered to terra firma. His parents were stunned when they noticed their new infant hovering just a few inches over his blanket, and, as he grew bigger, so did his propensity to float. Doctor Bell, who had delivered Matthew, was similarly amazed by Matthew’s effortless flotation, but every test he conducted confirmed that there was nothing physically wrong with the child. While he could offer no medication or cures, he was able to offer a temporary solution to Matthew and his parents’ problem. He and a friend had devised a special pair of shoes that would neutralize Matthew’s buoyancy and anchor him to the ground. As Matthew grew, the two doctors provided him with new pairs to fit his feet. Matthew’s parents insisted that he wear his shoes all the time. Both they and Dr. Bell were concerned that Matthew’s special circumstances might bring out the worst tendencies in certain elements of society. So Matthew grew up knowing that no one could know he was different, and that he could never remove those shoes in public. Those heavy black shoes did, of course, draw the attention of school bullies to Matthew’s “specialness”, but he was able to handle them fairly easily until one day when it all got just a bit too much.

Ethan Furman’s gentle and whimsical coming of age tale, The Nubivagants, will no doubt resonate with readers who have wished or still do wish that they could really fit in, that those things that make them feel that they’re different could magically disappear. Matthew is every child who is just a bit, or even a lot, different than his peers. It could be the thick-lensed glasses a child has to wear or an allergy to bee stings or peanuts, or being short or a little on the plump side. And as Matthew can’t really hide those big black shoes, even if he can walk just like everyone else, he cannot help but feel different, apart, and like he doesn’t belong. When his shoes are forcibly removed by bullies and he begins to soar into the heavens, Matthew figures that he’s going to die, but instead something magical happens.

While this book is targeted for a young audience, I’m sure it will appeal to a much broader audience as Matthew’s longing to be like his peers is a universal one. While being different hurts much more when one’s a child, wanting to fit in seems hard-wired into the human condition. And most of us, I think, would love to experience, even if temporarily, the freedom and sense of belonging that Matthew finds with his fellow Nubivagants. Furman’s tale is beautifully written, and his characters are fresh and appealing. The illustrations in The Nubivagants are marvelous as well, and they work wonderfully to bring this magical tale to life. The Nubivagants is most highly recommended.