cover image The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne

The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne

Shannon Takaoka. Candlewick, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5362-2878-6

A 16-year-old realizes that she can alter reality via her journal in this pensive tale by Takaoka (Everything I Thought I Knew). In 1987, high school junior Gracie Byrne is tired of being overlooked; she wants to be “more confident or funny or quick-witted or even mysteriously aloof… just more.” And even though she’s still navigating her parents’ divorce and her maternal grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, she’s confident that attending a new school is her chance for a fresh start. As the year commences, Gracie starts to make friends, including her charmingly goofy neighbor, Tom. Something weird is going on, however: when she writes stories about herself—the self she wishes she were—in her grandmother’s old notebook, they happen in real life. Suddenly, the extremely hot guy she sits next to in art class is interested in her. But this unexpected power comes at a cost. Immersive prose effectively conveys the push and pull between honoring one’s self and pursuing one’s desires. Via moments of young love and old loss, and themes of coming back to oneself, Takaoka delivers a moving and emotionally satisfying read. Characters are cued as white. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)