cover image A-Okay


Jarad Greene. HarperAlley, $22.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-303284-2

With compassion and sincerity, Greene’s (Scullion) graphic novel depicts the pains of middle school for Jay, an art-loving, acne-plagued eighth grader who doesn’t understand why his old friends are hanging out without him, or why he’s not developing crushes—at all. A white-cued, seemingly middle-class kid who gets good grades and passes for a “cool kid,” at least some of the time, Jay embarks on a cycle of Accutane, and weathers its many side effects with resilience, while becoming more confident, literally and figuratively, in his skin. He builds a new friend group, develops his personal fashion style, and, with encouragement from his friend Mark, who is gay and cued white, learns more about asexuality. Though the novel takes place near Tampa, Greene’s newspaper-comics-style illustrations have a sort of anyplace quality. Jay’s arc, on the other hand, is distinct and refreshing, and the story’s emphasis on friendships and body image issues is likely to resonate with any reader who has wished to jump out of their skin. Ages 8–12. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. (Nov.)