cover image Crushed


Melanie Conklin. Little, Brown, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316509-17-6

Twelve-year-old Brooklynite Sophie Valentine is thrilled when her best friend Eve returns to school in January following an extended absence, about which only Sophie knows the truth: “Eve tried to hurt herself.” But ever since Eve began hanging out with the Crash Crew—a group of kids who perform sometimes-risky social media dares—the autumn before her leave, things haven’t been the same for the two lifelong friends. Since virtual learning ended, Sophie’s anxiety has intensified, especially around members of the Crash Crew—Chaz invades Sophie’s personal space and Ashley makes snide comments that drag Sophie down. Moreover, Eve herself is pulling away, leading to Sophie’s experiencing panic attacks as she tries to fit in with the daredevils. When Eve references a previous dare that led to her self-harm, Sophie endeavors to resurrect their friendship by using what she’s learned in her forensic science unit to find out the details of the dare. Interludes from supporting characters add depth to Sophie’s community landscape, highlighting keenly rendered middle school social dynamics in this layered, perceptive examination of shifting friendship and post-pandemic anxiety by Conklin (A Perfect Mistake). Main characters read as white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Myrsini Stephanides, Arc Literary Management. (July)