cover image Just Lizzie

Just Lizzie

Karen Wilfrid. Clarion, $19.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-329029-7

All that rising eighth grader Lizzie wants is to start the new school year on the right foot, especially following a traumatic incident with a neighbor that forces her family to move house. But her best friend Sarah Nan has grown distant after getting a boyfriend, and the rest of her classmates seem obsessed with dating. Certain she’s not gay, Lizzie doesn’t understand “Crushes. Flirting. What you’re supposed to feel inside,” and she knows her resistance to romance has nothing to do with her not being “ready to put yourself out there.” She starts taking a self-defense class and begins brainstorming for a school science project as she navigates anxiety over her sexual orientation. While researching possible topics, she encounters the term asexual and wonders if that’s the identity she’s been searching for. Everything clicks into place as she studies the asexuality of reptiles, plants, and other humans. Through Lizzie’s keen first-person voice and her interpersonal dilemmas, as well as her richly complex relationships with her teachers, friends, family, and classmates, debut author Wilfrid captures the indomitable spirit of one middle schooler struggling to better understand herself and the world around her. Resources conclude. Main characters default to white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Lauren Scovel, Laura Gross Literary. (Nov.)