I think it involved some sort of romantic subplot, but I'm not sure. I also remember it having the discussion of death, maybe of the main characters mother?

The most significant thing I remember is the main character talking about an experiment: A large amount of water was put in a vat, and it was watched to detect the disappearance of electrons/(protons/something like that). There was also a scene where the main character was sitting on a roof looking out over a town, and sees a flash that he thinks is one of the particles.

It was set in the United States in modern-ish time. I read it within the last ten years.
It was a printed book, I think the cover was colorful but maybe not.
It was in English and not a translation (that I know of).
I read it in the U.S.A., I think I got it from a public library.

  • Welcome to Literature! Can you remember any more details about this book - for example, when did you read it, how old was it, what language was it written in, where in the world was it set, what time period was it set in, ... ? There's a checklist here which might help to jog your memory on some extra details. Every little helps! :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 23, 2017 at 23:11
  • @Randal'Thor I added everything I could based on your comment and the list.
    – domojz
    Oct 24, 2017 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


I know it’s been 3 years since this was asked, but I just remembered reading this book a while ago and was looking for it too. I think the book is Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli.

The novel begins with a short prologue in which Will, on a visit to an eccentric neighbor, learns about protons, a microscopic particle of matter which, the neighbor tells him, is the indestructible building block of all matter. The impressionable Will wonders whether, because he is matter, he too is indestructible, narration soon revealing that, over the years since, he has come to believe exactly that. One day, however, Will learns that protons are, in fact, finite and do come to an end. His belief that part of him is indestructible is profoundly shaken, and he goes to school wondering what this news now means for his life, which up to that moment had been safe, secure, and predictable.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site! Could you also add why you think this is the book OP was looking for? What are the details that match their description and their recollection? This may help them as well as future seekers. Apr 25, 2020 at 2:49
  • I added a paragraph from the Wikipedia article that seems to match up against the theme of subatomic particles and mortality. May 25, 2020 at 14:23

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