Readers will appreciate the raw and real portrayal of anorexia from a group often left out of the conversation.

THE YEAR I DIDN'T EAT

Max Howarth is a 14-year-old high schooler with anorexia nervosa.

Max lives in a small town in the west of England with his parents and his 21-year-old brother, Robin, an enthusiastic outdoorsman. About a year ago Max developed anorexia. His parents aren’t sure how to help, but Robin cracks jokes and smooths over awkward situations. Robin also introduces Max to geocaching at Christmas, when the story opens. Max’s two friends, Stu and Ram, know nothing about his anorexia because Max doesn’t think they could possibly understand. He isn’t honest with his therapist either, instead writing letters (interspersed throughout) in his secret journal to “Ana” (short for anorexia), telling “her” how she makes him feel. When his mother finds his journal, a terrified Max hides it in his geocache. When he returns for it he finds it’s no longer there. In its place is a letter of personal confessions from “E,” who he believes is Evie, the new girl at school. But is it? Pollen writes from the inside about anorexia, effectively communicating the feelings, obsessions, and difficulties Max experiences and making it clear that it is an equal-opportunity disorder. Ana’s scornful voice frequently breaks into Max’s narration, a device that combines with his meticulous calorie counting to place readers in his head. The book is default white, with nonwhite ethnicity primarily conveyed through naming convention; Ram is Muslim. A concluding author’s note provides encouragement.

Readers will appreciate the raw and real portrayal of anorexia from a group often left out of the conversation. (Fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0808-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Yellow Jacket

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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