After losing her hair—and friends—to alopecia, a high school freshman struggles to find her identity in a new school.
When Quinn’s family moves from Colorado to Massachusetts to address her autistic little brother Julius’ challenging “special needs,” Quinn vows that this will be a fresh start. No one will know that her beautiful hair is a wig. No one will know about that One Stupid Night, an uncomfortably realistic incident of sexual harassment that haunts her. Soon, her slate is full of friends, but Quinn’s popularity feels as precarious as the wig taped to her head—especially when she meets Nick, a bitter, artistic former football player who lost his legs to his brother’s drunken driving. As Quinn and Nick’s prickly relationship deepens, so do their characters; Friend’s (The Other F-Word, 2017, etc.) attention to physical and emotional detail brings readers into their anxious, itchy skins as both learn to trust and forgive. Frank discussions of phantom pain and post-traumatic stress add nuance to Nick’s bitterness. Alopecia support chats provide insight into Quinn’s sense of isolation, worsened by Julius’ demands on her parents. Unfortunately, Julius’ portrayal is jarringly distant; despite Quinn’s seeming acceptance, his clever flashes of personality are reduced to obsessions or therapeutic progress. Quinn and her family are white, her friend Carmen is Dominican, and other friends are ethnically ambiguous.
An unusual, uplifting take on self-discovery and starting over. (Fiction. 13-16)