cover image A Soft Place to Land

A Soft Place to Land

Janae Marks. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-287587-7

When her Black family moves from a house to an apartment across town after her father’s layoff, aspiring film score composer Joy Taylor, 12, assumes the worst is over. Unfortunately, her parents still argue, she must drop her beloved piano lessons, and none of her old friends have reached out to her as promised. But then she meets Nora Ramos, her cued-Latinx neighbor and new classmate, who knows everything about her new building. As the two become friends, Nora introduces Joy to the apartment building’s other kids, and they share with Joy their biggest secret: the Hideout. Relying on each other to navigate the struggles of their lives, the group grows closer—until one rainy day changes everything. Upset and feeling betrayed, Joy makes rash decisions that not only test her friendships, but threaten to oust her from her new crew entirely. If she wants to make things right again, Joy must learn a tough lesson about accountability and boundaries. At turns poignant and affirmative, this sophomore novel by Marks (From the Desk of Zoe Washington) imparts invaluable messages on growing up, being honest, and communicating feelings to loved ones. Ages 8–12. Agent: Alex Slater, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)