cover image Accidental


Alex Richards. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0358-9

Raised by her white Baptist grandparents in Santa Fe, 16-year-old Johanna sometimes longs for younger guardians, like her friend Gabby’s energetic West Indian parents and her friend Leah’s warm Jewish mother. Johanna knows nothing about her own mom, whom she believes was killed in a car accident, until her estranged father, who pops suddenly back into her life via a letter, reveals that “there was a gun in the house. You were only a baby. You found it.” After Johanna absorbs the truth about having pulled the trigger at age two, her world reels out of control. The rage and guilt she feels intensify when rumors spread at school, and she becomes a victim of bullying, forced to navigate pain and humiliation. Though secondary characters (Johanna’s grand- parents; her new, good-natured boyfriend) can come off as one-dimensional in Richards’s dramatic debut, Johanna, with her harrowing internal journey and desperate attempts to find closure and peace, is an admirable, convincing heroine who is determined to make things right for herself. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Lauren Galit, LKG Agency. (July) [/em]