cover image The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

Maya MacGregor. Astra Young Readers, $17.99 (360p) ISBN 978-1-63592-359-9

MacGregor’s exhilarating debut follows white nonbinary 18-year-old Sam Sylvester, who is autistic, as they try to make a new life in Oregon after surviving a harrowing hate crime in their Montana hometown. Despite unwavering support from their father and burgeoning friendships at their new school, Sam can’t shake the feeling that they won’t live to be 19—which they consider the threshold between childhood and adulthood—like the dead children whose stories Sam collects and honors. Upon learning that a teenage boy named Billy supposedly died of anaphylactic shock 30 years ago in their new house, Sam and Latinx new friend Shep endeavor to prove it wasn’t an accident. But after receiving mysterious threatening notes recalling recent trauma, Sam worries that the clock is running down toward their seemingly inevitable demise. Sam’s intimate developing relationships and outwardly bright future provide respite and optimism, even as they battle internal fears for the future. Heavy themes of early death, trauma, and violence are inextricably woven into the history of both the town and various characters, exhibiting myriad paths toward healing and justice. Equal parts delicate and devastating, MacGregor’s thought-provoking prose, evocative settings, and vividly characterized cast combine to provide a hopeful look at survival and closure. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (May)