cover image Radical


E.M. Kokie. Candlewick, $17.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6962-1

In this provocative novel, Kokie (Personal Effects) takes on the controversial subject of gun ownership in America. Sixteen-year-old Bex Mullin is obsessed with preparing for what she thinks is an inevitable catastrophe, spending as much time as possible honing her survival skills and marksmanship, despite her family’s open disapproval of her unfeminine appearance and hobbies. When Bex joins Clearview, a group of people with similar interests, she finds a measure of acceptance, but after she falls for Lucy, who wants nothing to do with guns or training, Bex struggles to reconcile the different aspects of her life. It all comes to a head when the government takes an interest in Bex and her family, and she has to decide what’s more important: protecting herself or relatives who have never supported her. Kokie writes with nuanced sympathy, condemning the government’s heavy-handed tactics and Bex’s tunnel vision, contrasting her need for self-sufficiency with her desire to belong, and examining gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s a complex recipe of volatile ingredients that Kokie uses to deliver an unsettling story that’s both timely and necessary. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)