A summer with his estranged father on an island in the Pacific Northwest helps JC come to grips with his best friend’s death.
JC is a scholarship student at a Brooklyn high school, surrounded by children of the rich and famous. His love of sharks earns him the nickname Sharkboy, to which The King adds Great White because of his race. The two tempt fate with adrenaline-filled skateboarding and parcours moves: “It felt like infinity would feel if it could be a feeling.” When The King falls from the 42nd floor of a building, JC’s anguish turns inward, and he stops talking. He sends brief, off-putting text responses in French to his remaining close friend, Daff. He pours his heart out to her in longer, unsent text messages. These, as well as messages to The King, function as a journal that explores the complicated bond among the three. Race is a secondary factor here: The King is identified as African-American; Daff’s race is only hinted at. More important is the personal journey JC takes to reconnect with his father, make new friends, and recapture his sense of self along with his voice. The author skillfully pulls together the disparate parts of JC’s life through his deeply felt, sometimes humorous, first-person narration.
JC’s voice, spoken and unspoken, rings with a note of authenticity. (Fiction. 12-17)