The Ones We’re Meant to Find

“People wanted the quickest, easiest solutions. To solve their most immediate problems, they could steal from any future other than their own.”

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He tells two parallel stories. One thread follows Cee, a girl who has been stranded on an abandoned island for three years with no memory of how she got there or who she is, aside from an urgent need to survive and find her sister, Kay. The other thread follows 16-year-old Kasey Mizuhara, a loner and science prodigy who lives in a floating eco-city where everyone must limit their strain on resources by spending time in virtual reality stasis pods. Kasey is determined to unlock the secrets left behind by her charismatic sister Celia, who disappeared on a boat three months ago and is presumed dead since no one could survive for long on the planet’s surface without protection, due to the ravages of climate change.

The themes in The Ones We’re Meant to Find offer a potent vehicle for exploring the effects of climate change in a projected future in a personal, compelling way. Climate change shapes the setting of the story, since the eco-cities are an exclusive refuge from a dying planet only available for people who have a small enough environmental footprint, but this number is calculated from not only their personal actions but also their ancestors’ legacies. This aspect of the worldbuilding makes visible how the ecologically inconsiderate actions of previous generations have created a chain of slow violence that carries on long after them. The story is structured as a mystery, and its characters slowly unravel the secrets of their world and the often-selfish motivations of the people within it. This theme of personal, selfish actions with long-term consequences threads through the entire plot as the sisters pursue their quests, until the final twist of the mystery delivers a crushing demonstration of long-term costs.

The highly emotional nature of the sisters’ stories transforms the abstract projections and predictions of climate change into a setting that readers can experience on a personal level, even while contemplating large scale consequences. In a teaching context, this aspect of the novel could be explicitly discussed in order to encourage young readers to make the connections between scientific processes and large-scale phenomena and their own lives.

©2023 ClimateLit (Emily Midkiff)

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2021

Pages: 384

Lexile Score: HL690L

ISBN: 9781250258564

Audience: Ages 14+

Format: Novels

Topics: Climate Change, Climate Haven, Eco-cities, Ecological Footprint, Slow Violence