cover image Audacious


Gabrielle Prendergast. Orca, $19.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4598-0530-9

Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones’s novels in verse will delight in Prendergast’s rich, riveting story, first in a planned duo. Just before Ella’s junior year, her family moves to escape their problems—her mother’s grief over the death of her baby, younger sister Kayli’s learning difficulties, Ella’s victimization by school bullies, and her father’s unwillingness to face any of it—only to continue to wrestle with the same things. Ella falls for a Palestinian classmate, Samir, bringing up questions of identity and faith for both. Samir and Ella create controversial works for the student art show, and Samir’s daring statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Ella’s explicit portrayal of womanhood land them in serious, but believable trouble. While the thread about Ella’s bullying and her desire to act out is weakly explained, Prendergast demonstrates a powerful understanding of the adolescent search for identity, and her writing uses the verse format to great effect, with an honest teenage voice, a willingness to play with poetic form, and an intensity that arises through the condensed language. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kris Rothstein, Carolyn Swayze Literary Agency. (Oct.)