Laid-back Mateo Marino doesn’t brood about the past or worry about the future. Instead, he lives in the present moment, driving his high-achieving parents crazy. Mateo feels unseen and unappreciated, especially compared to his younger brother, Alex, who is perfect in their eyes. But everything changes when Mateo disappears through a mysterious crack in his bedroom ceiling and finds himself on a planet called Urth, 67,000 light years away.
Why was he drawn there? He doesn’t know, but a series of mind-blowing adventures follow, leading him deeper into the mystery and farther from home, where his desperate parents think he’s been abducted and an innocent man is charged with the crime.
With the help of an “uppy” named Ideth, Mateo learns that he has an amazing gift called Presence that his parents have overlooked in their zeal to cure his “laziness.” But his gift has a dark side, too, that he discovers all too well when a terrible tragedy threatens to annihilate the very Urthling girl he befriends and feels duty bound to protect.
On the surface, Mateo and the Gift of Presence is a lighthearted science fiction adventure story that takes its readers on a romp across the galaxy to a planet with two moons and enormous tides, inhabited by lavender humanoids adapted for life by the sea. But the undercurrent is one of discovery and redemption, where a ten-year old boy, though an unexpected journey, finds a way to escape his parent’s stifling shadow and emerge into a future of his own choosing.