cover image Dust


Dusti Bowling. Little, Brown, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-41423-4

An asthmatic 12-year-old with the power to read emotions through touch stands up against bullying and a friend’s abusive homelife in this lightly speculative offering from Bowling (Across the Desert). Ever since she almost died from an asthma attack, Avalyn has carried an inhaler, which helps her combat the feeling of “breathing air mud” while living in Clear Canyon City, Ariz. At school, she befriends new student Adam, the two bonding over their shared love of X-Men. But Avalyn is keeping her ability a secret from her new friend. When popular bullies target introverted Adam, calling him “Dirt Head” for his unkempt appearance, Avalyn uses her powers to help him, but what she detects (a “dark dungeon feeling”) prompts worry for her friend. Meanwhile, Avalyn’s breathing problems worsen as dangerous dust storms escalate. The integration of Avalyn’s superpowers into her everyday situations is sometimes bluntly handled, but Bowling nevertheless deftly portrays Avalyn as a resourceful tween who will stop at nothing to protect a friend, determinedly overcoming her feelings of frustration and isolation surrounding her asthma and pervasive allergies. An author’s note and discussion questions conclude. Avalyn and Adam cue as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marshal Lyon Literary. (Aug.)