cover image Happily Ever Afters

Happily Ever Afters

Elise Bryant. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-298283-4

After moving to Long Beach, Calif., biracial Black junior and aspiring romance author Tessa Johnson, 16, enrolls in the creative writing conservatory at prestigious Chrysalis Academy. But even as her social life flourishes at the private art school—with new friends, including her supportive, blond baker neighbor Sam—she can’t surmount a serious case of writer’s block and imposter syndrome, brought on by her first encounter with workshop environments. To alleviate Tessa’s fear of embarrassment and lack of romantic experience, childhood best friend Caroline Tibayan suggests Tessa create her own love story with Nico, a rich, popular white classmate. Anxious and self-conscious, Tessa knows that outsiders judge her older brother, who has athetoid cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment, and hold preconceptions about the siblings’ biracial Black and white identity. Thus, as she grows closer to Nico and his friends, she can’t help but notice their frequent insensitivity. Caught between pursuing a tale-worthy love and slowly losing herself, Tessa must learn to tell a story that’s uniquely hers. Debut author Bryant creates a wholly genuine protagonist in Tessa; readers will surely root for her as she finds her voice. Ages 14–up. [em](Jan.) [/em]