My Life in the Universe

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 22 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 31 May 2022

Talking about this book? Use #leahsuniverse #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


14-year-old Leah loves wilderness survival books. In fact, sometimes she wishes she could escape into the wild. Then she could get away from the body image obsession at school and the bullies who pick on her little brother, Aiden. As long as she could still braid her hair, she could definitely survive without home comforts... and she could explore her passion for stargazing.

But alone in the woods one night, Leah's life is transformed. She has the strangest sensation of gliding across the night sky, among millions of dazzling stars. This profound experience sparks a burning question in Leah that no one seems able to answer.

Desperate to broaden her horizons, Leah challenges herself to attend an international summer camp. Will the people she meets there, from her first love Sean, to formidable climate activist Kayleigh, help Leah find the answer to her question: what is 'Home'?

The first in a new trilogy, Leah's Universe, this is the philosophical tale of one girl’s quest to understand her place in the universe. 

14-year-old Leah loves wilderness survival books. In fact, sometimes she wishes she could escape into the wild. Then she could get away from the body image obsession at school and the bullies who...

Advance Praise

"Home is a joy to read and a crucial reminder that life is a profoundly mysterious adventure.” - Reader Review

"I was deeply moved and inspired by Home. It gave me chills!" - Reader Review

"Home answered questions I already had and made me think of new ones. It is truly inspiring." - Reader Review

"I loved following Leah’s journey and seeing how life’s biggest questions can sometimes have the simplest, purest answers. Mark Ballabon’s lyrical and literary prose takes the reader on a captivating journey of discovery and affirmation. A real tonic of a read!" - Author Eleanor Hawken

"Home touches on everything from etymology to more traditional teen issues of school bullies and body image issues and the ever-increasing urgency to act to slow down global warming. This is a book with a lot of positive messages and would be a good introduction into more philosophical thinking for teenagers while helping them to perhaps understand themselves and the world around them better." - Love Reading 4 Kids

"Everyone needs a Maia in their life!" - Bookseller 

"Home is a joy to read and a crucial reminder that life is a profoundly mysterious adventure.” - Reader Review

"I was deeply moved and inspired by Home. It gave me chills!" - Reader Review


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780955948770
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 19 members

Featured Reviews

I really enjoyed the wider questions Home provides it’s readers. It did take me a while to get into this book but once the protagonist was at camp and started a journey of self discovery, I was intrigued. I think this is a great book to read to inspire young minds and to teach important lessons about acceptance, team-work and standing up for what you believe in. A great book for inquisitive readers!

Was this review helpful?

A massive thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this review copy!

I went into this book not really knowing what it was about. It turns out that this book takes you on a journey to find yourself.

This is a good book to read when you are growing up. It makes you think about where you belong and what you want from life.

I loved going along on Leah’s journey. It was interesting to hear her ask those all important questions.

I do believe that everybody who reads this one will interpret it slightly differently. The true nature of a book that pulls at your heartstrings and makes you think about your own journey through life.

Was this review helpful?

‘Home’ follows Leah as she discovers who she is, on an international camp.

I honestly picked up ‘Home’ not knowing what to expect, but I was not disappointed. It is very rare I feel so attached to a book.

I would describe ‘Home’ as a novel fill to the brim with philosophical ideas and concepts; you definitely will find yourself go on a journey as you are reading it. I also feel the author very much leaves the book open to your own interpretations and each reader will have a journey with this book.

As someone who massively enjoys philosophical matters I therefore loved. this book, however it is certainly still accessible for those who don’t embrace philosophical concepts.

The main question of the book is ‘ Where is home?’, a question that is both complex and simple. I marvel at the way the author created a book along these lines. I am truly in awe of some of the discoveries made in the book.

Even though this book is a philosophical haven, it still felt like a novel. I still enjoyed the characters and the storyline. I can only describe this as two books in one.

I also enjoyed the diversity of characters in this book, the setting of an international holiday camp certainly enhanced this. The character development throughout the novel was fascinating, I definitely felt like I was almost growing up with Leah and even some of the other characters.

I hope that this book is a huge success; it is one of the best I have read.

Well how do you even sum up a review for one of the best books you have ever read? Well I would purely say that I would recommend it for novel loving and philosophical book lovers young and old.

5/5 stars

Was this review helpful?

What a beautiful book !
This is a book that should be given to all teens to help them on their journey through life. It certainly made me think about many things and who I was and in what direction I was going. Full of philosophical questions and ideas but presented in a very readable relatable format.

Was this review helpful?

I want to say a huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this book! “Home” by Mark Ballabon follows Leah as she goes on a self discovery journey at an international camp. I picked this book up with high hopes and was not disappointed. Even though, I could tell that I wasn’t very absorbed by the story because it’s middle grade and I am obviously passed the stage of reading those kinds of books, from an objective point of view, this was an outstanding book!
This is the kind of book I wish I could have read when I was younger, because it was so good. It’s filled with valuable life lessons disguised as heartwarming events in the life of a sweet and creative main character.
“Home” is definitely more of a philosophical book, but I enjoyed that about it. The main question of the book is “Where is home?”. It sounds quite simple but is actually complex, because this books demonstrates how home is so much more than a place.
I though it was so nice that Leah is a considerate, kind and strong main character, because any kid who will read this book, will definitely look up to her and she is most certainly a great role model for children who are starting their journey into their teenage years. She also has a lot of character development across the book, which I enjoyed seeing. I highly appreciated the fact that the book had a diverse cast of characters and that it dealt with important topics that affect the world such as global warming and bullying.
The thing I liked the most about this book was that it was written clearly yet anybody who reads it will interpret it a little different because the topics discussed are so personal that not everyone will experience it the same. I loved how open it all was and it is most definitely the kind of book that will make you reevaluate life and all of it’s wonders.
All of this being said, “Home” is a moving story about what it means to laugh, to hurt, to rejoice, to celebrate and to be human.

Was this review helpful?

We read and interviewed Mark Ballabon for the spring 2022 issue of PaperBound Magazine. We adored Mark's writing and the illustrations inside that helped paint a picture of what the protagonist was going through across the narrative.

Was this review helpful?

As sometimes I happen to be a teacher of foreign languages to teenagers, I am often surprised about the deep human knowledge as well as of the extent of concern about everyday topics we, adults, are rather tempted to hide under the carpet, such as global change. Therefore, I was not surprised by the level of maturity and philosophical approach to life by Leah, the main character of Home, the debut YA novel by Mark Ballabon.

Home is the first volume of a projected trilogy, with an inspired beautiful illustration by Grant MacDonald. 14yo Leah is trying to answer questions about what does it mean home as someone´s place in the huge universe, but also discovers and observes human behavior and diversity.

Through dialogues, journaling and philosophical observations, Leah is building up her home of the mind. With the pure heart of the curious, she is writing her own home through interpretations and worldview discovery. There is always place for understanding instead of hate and violence, although familiar and fascinated by survival stories and experience that may teach you the lessons of the survival of the fittest. But when you realize that world is your canvas where you write your own story, there is no other choice but to be good and kind and understand the sadness of the bully.

Home can be easily considered a book for this generation as it reflects the topics and worries typical for young people this age. It is also a story of getting strong and empowered while nurtured by the life in the middle of the nature, trying to understand and respect its rules. I am very curious to read Leah´s next adventures that although may be suited for YA readership, can be equally inspiring for the parents of young readers as well.

Was this review helpful?

Told from from 14 year old Leah’s perspective. A typical curious teenager she has more questions than answers.
Leah wants to understand the meaning of home especially within the wider universe.

This is the first book of a proposed trilogy with Leah as the main protagonist. I enjoyed this book immensely, for me was an easy read. I feel it would be a perfect transitional book for a young teenager from 12 years and up. It has simple uncomplicated language that is thought provoking especially for a younger person.
I particularly enjoyed the addition of illustrations, however reading the ebook didn’t give the full impact. I will be picking up a physical copy for niece whom at 12 would love reading about Leah.
Ballabon is a philosopher and environmentalist which fits with the main theme throughout the book. I look forward to reading what’s in store next for Leah’s Universe.

Was this review helpful?

This is so utterly beautiful. There’s not a single thing I didn’t love about this book, I can’t wait for the sequels.

Was this review helpful?

The cover first attracted me to this book but the writing style of the author kept me reading. I don’t often read books targeted at a younger audience, but I’m very glad I read Home. There are the gorgeous illustrations from Grant MacDonald among the pages, and while I think they really popped out when reading the Kindle Edition, I found that I preferred the look of them in the paperback.

This is book one in a trilogy about main character Leah, and I’m already looking forward to reading more about her life. The subjects in the story are relevant to us all as we follow Leah in her search for the meaning of ‘home’. Our place in the universe, death, and climate change being some of the topics covered.

I immediately liked Leah, I felt her longing to escape from the unkind world of body shamers and bullies, to stargaze and feel as if she is the universe experiencing itself. Sean and Kayleigh are equally likeable. In fact, all of the characters were three dimensional and entirely credible.

While this is for younger people, I feel it is also a great book for many adults to read too. It may awaken a long dormant curiosity about life and what ‘home’ means to us, and encourage conversation between parents and their children. With that in mind, I recommend this book to everyone, young and not-so-young. I gave Home: My Life In The Universe, by Mark Ballabon, four stars (no pun intended 😉).

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Readers First for an advanced copy of HOME in exchange of my honest opinion.

I have never read anything by Mark Ballabon before so I didn't know what to expect. And now that I have had the pleasure to read HOME, I don't really know how to review this book.

No words will express everything this story made me feel.

Let's start by the easy part, I think. The illustrations. Every chapter, called window, starts with a stunning illustration in the colour range this book has going on: blue, purple and white.

They get prettier and prettier as the book advances and they were able to bring me straight into the story.

I also found myself asking me questions, as did our main character, Leah, and trying to answer the ones she proposed. The majority of them were quite deep and hard to answer but made me think about us, as humans, and our role in Earth.

I felt like I was friends with Leah. I could feel her anxiety and worry, I could relate to her thoughts and I wish I have had a Maia when I was younger for support.

I loved Leah's relationship with nature. The care, the love, the respect, the understanding. It is a great lesson for every reader.

Without a shadow of a doubt, 5⭐. HOME is a book worth reading.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: