Thirteen-year-old Flint, aka “Squint,” is determined to finish his comic book in time to enter it in a contest—and before he loses so much more of his eyesight that he can no longer see to draw.
Squint has a degenerative corneal disease that has left him with thick glasses that do little to correct his vision but make him a magnet for bullying by popular kids. When popular McKell reaches out to him, his first reaction is to protect himself by rejecting her. But then he discovers that she’s dealing with plenty herself; her older brother, Danny, has progeria, a rare disease that’s killing him. Danny has a popular YouTube channel in which he suggests challenges or activities designed to bring people together. After his death, the videos keep coming, serving, poignantly, to draw McKell and Squint closer as he gradually emerges from his self-imposed isolation. Squint’s comic-book tale accompanies and parallels his first-person narration, crafting a fantasy world where Squint can be the superhero of his dreams. But it’s the drawing of the comics that presents the greatest challenge to him with his poor vision. The book assumes a white default, with Squint assumed white and biracial McKell half-Filipina and presumably half-white. That Squint’s drawings are not included seems like a major missed opportunity to broaden this sometimes-maudlin tale of loss and redemption.
In spite of its predictability, likely to find an appreciative audience among young teens. (Fiction. 11-14)