This book is comforting like a handmade quilt, and kind like a good friend. It paints a picture of a sprawling and diverse universe, populated by aliens of different body plans and cultures and sexual norms, some kind, some violent, all of them strange to one another, but all of them trying (and sometimes failing, but always trying) to find ways to live together in something like peace, or at least neutrality. It's an absolutely lovely way of looking at the universe--nothing like a utopia, but nonetheless relentlessly optimistic in imagining that everyone is doing their best, and able to always become a better version of themselves.
It's not all fuzzy niceness though; there's plenty of conflict, some of it surprisingly violent against the fuzzy backdrop, and there was at least one point where I shed actual tears because Becky Chambers also knows how to hit her readers in the soft spots when she wants to.
There's plenty of representation, inclusion, and just good plain kind-hearted attempts at understanding the other in this book, which is at least part of why this book made me feel so at home while reading it. It's the perfect anxiety-be-gone book, the perfect book to read when you've just about convinced yourself that the world is shit. This book is pure, kind, and good, and I would recommend it to anyone, and especially those who need a little pick-me-up.
5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and I wish I could give it more.