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I KISSED ALICE by Anna Birch


by Anna Birch ; illustrated by Victoria Ying

Pub Date: July 28th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-250-21985-5
Publisher: Imprint

Two art students collaborate anonymously on a queer fan comic while clashing in real life over a prestigious scholarship.

To high school senior Iliana Vrionides, the Capstone Foundation Award represents opportunities that her affluent and well-connected peers at the Alabama Conservatory of the Arts and Technology take for granted. Iliana’s determination to win the award is intensified by her desire to beat her classmate and nemesis Rhodes Ingram who, in Iliana’s eyes, exemplifies the highbrow snobbery that art competition juries favor. Iliana often vents her frustration to I-Kissed-Alice, a friend she met on fandom database Slash/Spot and with whom Iliana co-authors “Hearts and Spades,” an Alice in Wonderland fan comic. Little does she know that I-Kissed-Alice is actually Rhodes, whose struggle with depression and familial pressure to succeed has rendered her unable to create artwork for school. As the deadline for the Capstone project proposal draws near, the animosity between Iliana and Rhodes comes to a peak even as they make plans online to meet in person. With a premise based on the "secret identity" trope, this novel could have fallen into cliché. Instead, it digs into the messiness of relationships colored by personal bias and misunderstanding. The protagonists are alive with emotions and flaws, and their chemistry as both enemies and allies crackles off the pages. Iliana is white, bisexual, and fat; Rhodes is white and queer.

Come for the rivalry, stay for the romance.

(Romance. 13-18)