cover image The Right & the Real

The Right & the Real

Joëlle Anthony. Putnam, $17.99 (228p) ISBN 978-0-399-25525-0

Seventeen-year-old Jamie’s principled but spontaneous refusal to join a cultish church her father is marrying into catapults her carefully prescribed life into upheaval, as she is shunned by church and family. Anthony (Restoring Harmony) creates a heroine whose combined sophistication and naïveté result in a determination to hide her sudden abandonment (and consequent homelessness) from her friends and caring adults, in order to avoid involving the law, which she fears might reunite her with her drug-addicted mother. Priorities shift dramatically as Jamie confronts her need to turn down the lead in the spring musical for a paying job, while the stress of duplicitous living eventually takes its toll on her relationships. The complex supporting cast includes Jamie’s vulnerable father; her boyfriend, Josh, a conflicted church member; the creepy Teacher, who demands his followers call him Jesus; and LeVon, a ­parolee who takes Jamie under his wing when she moves into a divey motel. Fast pacing and a strong first-person narrative voice combine to make this coming-of-age story a harrowing page-turner. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Apr.)