cover image The Song of Us

The Song of Us

Kate Fussner. HarperCollins/Tegen, $19.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-0632-5694-1

Immediate-feeling verse traces painful self-discovery and heady first love in Fussner’s debut, a queer retelling of “Orpheus and Eurydice.” When white-presenting seventh graders Eden and Olivia meet at the school poetry club that Olivia cofounded, they feel a simultaneous pull toward one another. Their secret relationship quickly blossoms into a deep, consuming first love, but their connection fractures during a heated argument about a Halloween party. Olivia hatches a plan to win Eden back via the power of love poems as the two struggle separately with identity, fitting in and friendships, and challenging parental situations involving Olivia’s mother’s depression and Eden’s emotionally abusive father. Tracing the experiences of two kids with limited control over their lives, snappy verse embodies the girls’ achingly real alternating voices while thoughtfully considering topics such as coming out, mental health, parental abuse, and peer pressure. While prior knowledge of the myth isn’t essential to understanding the story, those familiar will pick up on subtle nods, including heartfelt performance as a path to regaining lost love. Hand this yearning-tinged slice-of-life romance to fans of Ashley Herring Blake and K.A. Holt. Secondary characters are intersectionally diverse. Ages 10–up. Agent: Eric Smith, P.S. Literary Agency. (May)