cover image Take Me with You When You Go

Take Me with You When You Go

David Levithan and Jennifer Niven. Knopf, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-5255-8099-7

Two white siblings find themselves—and each other—in Levithan’s (19 Love Songs) and Niven’s (Breathless) tender collaboration. When 15-year-old high school freshman Ezra Ahern’s 18-year-old senior sister Beatrix disappears from their Indiana hometown, he feels lost, left alone with their abusive mother and stepfather. As Bea starts a new life and uncovers hidden family history in St. Louis, Ezra struggles to leave his parents and be honest with his boyfriend Terrence, who is Black. Things reach a boiling point for each of the siblings until the only way for them to save themselves is to confront their fear and break their silence. Thoughtful observations and difficult truths abound in Bea’s and Ez’s story, which alternates between their viewpoints and is told entirely via their emails, as they grapple compellingly with their trauma. Bea is especially memorable—naive and self-aware, callous and compassionate—but withdrawn Ez’s gradual opening up to others is also potent. If the delivery relies on philosophizing instead of letting the narrative speak for itself, the compassionate portrayal of the pain of childhood abuse and the difficulty of escaping it more than compensates. Ages 14–up. Agents: (for Levithan) Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency; (for Niven) Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (Aug.)