How to Disappear.
By Sharon Huss Roat.
Aug. 2017. 384p. Harper Teen, $17.99 (9780062291752);
e-book, $17.99 (9780062291776). Gr. 8–11.
Vicky’s best friend, Jenna, has always
thought it funny that Vicky mispronounc-
es vicarious as “vicurious,” but to Vicky it
makes perfect sense. Isn’t curiosity the rea-
son for living vicariously? Then Jenna moves
away, making friends with kids cooler than
Vicky. Hoping to impress Jenna and hide
the fact that she is now friendless and lonely
at school, Vicky Photoshops herself into
the crowd of a concert. This is so success-
ful that Vicky secretly creates an Instagram
account under the name Vicurious and fills
it with images of a wildly disguised Vicky
Photoshopped into crazy scenes, like rid-
ing a hippogriff or dancing with the Foo
Fighters, and before long, she’s an Instagram
sensation. Meanwhile, real-life Vicky makes
tentative friends and even a maybe boy-
friend. The dichotomy between Vicky and
her online persona will ring true to many
teen readers. Roat explores both the im-
pulse to create an enhanced digital self and
the desperation of those seeking connection
through online platforms. Also noteworthy
is Roat’s portrayal of Vicky’s paralyzing social
anxiety. Recommend to fans of Zoe Sugg’s
Girl Online (2014). —Diane Colson
By Patricia Forde.
Aug. 2017. 384p. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, $16.99
(9781492647966). Gr. 6–9.
Letta, Ark’s apprentice Wordsmith, may be
too young to remember the “Melting,” but
—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
For Jason Reynolds’s still-growing droves of followers, it’s especially nice that he’s also wildly prolific. Here are his two latest.
Long Way Down.
By Jason Reynolds.
Oct. 2017. 320p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99 (9781481438254). Gr. 7–12.
Spanning a mere one minute and seven seconds, Reynolds’ new free-verse novel is an
intense snapshot of the chain reaction caused by pulling a trigger. First, 15-year-old Will
Holloman sets the scene by relating his brother Shawn’s murder two days prior—gunned
down while buying soap for their mother. Next, he lays out The Rules: don’t cry, don’t
snitch, always get revenge. Now that the reader is up to speed, Will tucks Shawn’s gun into
his waistband and steps into an elevator, steeled to execute rule number
three and shoot his brother’s killer. Yet, the simple seven-floor descent
becomes a revelatory trip. At each floor, the doors open to admit someone killed by the same cycle of violence that Will’s about to enter. He’s
properly freaked out, but as the seconds tick by and floors count down,
each new occupant drops some knowledge and pushes Will to examine
his plans for that gun. Reynolds’ concise verses echo like shots against
the white space of the page, their impact resounding. He peels back the
individual stories that led to this moment in the elevator and exposes a
culture inured to violence because poverty, gang life, or injustice has left them with no
other option. In this all-too-real portrait of survival, Reynolds goes toe-to-toe with where,
or even if, love and choice are allowed to exist. —Julia Smith
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A noisy buzz always surrounds this critically acclaimed author’s
work, and the planned tour and promo campaign for his latest will boost that buzz to a siren call.
By Jason Reynolds. Illus. by Kadir Nelson.
Aug. 2017. 272p. Disney/Marvel, $17.99 (9781484787489); e-book, $17.99 (9781368001373). Gr. 6–9.
In his first adventures in a nongraphic format, Peter Parker’s multiethnic successor struggles with foes and feelings alike. Outbreaks of rage, a bumbling attraction for classmate
Alicia, and family issues combine with a constant but nebulous sense of imminent danger to
leave him an emotional wreck. Though this features web-slinging and a climactic battle with
a supernatural villain, the action takes a backseat to more generally applicable explorations of
self and racial identities, developing relationships, and life choices—plus some great banter.
Coretta Scott King honoree Reynolds builds on a comic book plot and neatly ties in Miles’
Marvel Universe background, but he focuses more on his 16-year-old protagonist’s struggle
with self-doubt in a vividly rendered urban setting stocked with engaging supporting characters. By the end, the villains—a brainwashed cabal dedicated to driving African American
“filth” back down into slavery—are vanquished, but more important (here, at least), Miles
is closer to believing in his destiny as crime fighter rather than criminal, and his future in
school and with Alicia is looking brighter. —John Peters
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Reynolds’ significant selling power combines with the incarnation of an ever-popular superhero for what’s sure to be a boundary-busting hit.