cover image When We Were Magic

When We Were Magic

Sarah Gailey. Simon Pulse, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3287-1

Hugo Award–winner Gailey’s darkly funny YA debut follows high school senior Alexis and her tightly knit friend group as they cover up an accidental magical murder. Alexis, Iris, Marcelina, Maryam, Paulie, and Roya have worked to gain control and understanding of their powers, which manifest differently for each. After Alexis decides to lose her virginity on prom night to classmate Josh Harper, an unfortunate magical mishap leaves Josh dead, Alexis at fault, and her loyal band of friends arranging a cover-up, keeping quiet as an investigation into his disappearance begins. Magic isn’t Alexis’s only secret—she’s also in love with her best friend, Roya. The drama surrounding the death and cover-up is entertainingly macabre, involving disseminating parts of the corpse. Overall, the story’s magical elements signify the exploration of insecurity, uncertainty, and self-acceptance surrounding identity and significant life changes (e.g., graduation, redefining friendships, and coming out) for this deeply inclusive group, which spans gender identities, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Alexis’s hesitancy to admit her feelings for Roya is rooted in her self-doubt and the value she places on their friendship, a distinctive choice that feels modern and relatable. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: DongWon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Mar.) [/em]