Desperate to cling to something of his mother’s after her death, 16-year-old Max believes he has invited her tumor into his brain and that it is slowly killing him.
Max is increasingly withdrawn, lost, and strange. His father, desperate to help him with his grief, enrolls him in an exclusive school filled with eccentric artists. There, Max meets Fish, a bubbly girl with pink hair, and her band of misfit friends. Max also meets the curmudgeonly creative-writing teacher, who uses unorthodox methods to force Max to talk about his pain. He has a breakthrough during a staging of Hamlet, in which each cast member is forced to confront his or her own ghosts. Max’s tightrope walk between sanity and insanity will resonate with anyone suffering from a loss. While he must find a way to live again, it takes the combined efforts of his wild friends, his devoted family, and a few dedicated and eccentric teachers. Lyrical prose, fresh and compelling images, and unforgettable characters create an experience that will stay with readers far past the last page. The principals are white and Jewish, but the school boasts students of many races, religions, and sexual orientations.
Grief becomes something oddly beautiful—and beautifully odd. (Fiction. 14-18)