cover image A Map to the Sun

A Map to the Sun

Sloane Leong. First Second, $24.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-25014-668-7

In a color palette like a Venice Beach sunset, Leong makes an ensemble of struggling teens shine in this uplifting and visually explosive graphic novel. Ren, who is androgynous and Black, and Luna, a cheery hapa surfer from Oahu, have two things in common: basketball and families splintered by trauma. The new biology teacher, Marisol Weylan, recruits them for the underfunded school’s first girls’ basketball team, along with Jetta, a rebellious Navajo girl who falls for the advances of the predatory boys’ coach; So-Young, a tall Korean kid who hides behind an online avatar; and Ren’s bestie Anella, a Black teen who is harassed and underestimated because of her weight. Anella observes, “No one out there is rising for me. Whatever, I can live in the dark,” a sentiment that could be true for each girl, until they begin to rise for each other and themselves. Coach Weylan encourages the teammates to identify their own weaknesses so they can support one another with their strengths, and gradually, that’s exactly what happens. Leong elevates the classic ragtag-sports-team narrative by giving her characters grit and gravitas, and rendering their world of malls, convenience stores, and slumping apartment buildings in brilliant reds and purples. In multiple panels, she positions a bright orange basketball like the sun: the thing that pulls them into its orbit and illuminates the group in full electric color. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Jennifer Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (Aug.) [/em]