cover image Fight + Flight

Fight + Flight

Jules Machias. Quill Tree, $16.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-305394-6

Machias’s (Both Can Be True) arresting novel, told in alternating narratives, features white 13-year-olds Avery Hart and Sarah Bell finding strength in each other amid an active shooter drill. Pansexual Avery loves drumming and riding her dirt bike, but the chronic pain from her hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome limits her mobility, leaving her feeling out of control of her life. Sarah is an artist who draws to manage her panic attacks, though her parents insist that prayer is all she needs. When Maple Creek Middle School’s principal fabricates an active shooter situation, leaving students shaken, Avery swears vengeance against the administration. As infatuation blooms between the girls and Avery’s plan becomes perilous, Sarah resolves to overcome her own anxieties and help her traumatized classmates. The girls’ voices are distinct, and Avery’s righteous anger complements Sarah’s calm, reserved introspection, balancing the heavy subject matter with levity. This affecting story empathetically explores challenges of living with chronic pain and anxiety, offering hope and moments of hard-won joy. Sarah’s intricate line drawings illustrate the chapters she narrates via her journal. Supporting characters include BIPOC and queer representation. Ages 10–up. Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary Management. (May)