cover image Bang


Barry Lyga. Little, Brown, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-31550-0

Ten years after accidentally shooting and killing his baby sister, 14-year-old Sebastian is haunted by the loss to the point of considering suicide. When he meets Aneesa, a new neighbor whose brown skin and headscarf also make her an outcast, their friendship challenges his views of his self worth. Suddenly, Sebastian is making pizzas for their YouTube channel and not solely focusing on feeling like a pariah, “the kid who killed.” But he can’t outrun his past, and a climactic revelation is a gut punch, returning to the agonized and primal feelings that are essential to this gripping story. Lyga (The Secret Sea) expertly scatters reminders of Sebastian’s burden in benign, tossed-off phrases (of friends with siblings: “half the time it’s like they just wish they could kill them”), the prominence of first-person shooter games, and his best friend’s father’s prized gun collection, each of which reveals another facet of his trauma. It’s a raw exploration of persistent social stigmas, a beautiful study of forgiveness, and an unflinching portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary Management. (Apr.)