cover image Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One

Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One

Maggie Horne. HarperCollins, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-358-66470-3

As inadvertent confidante to oversharer Tyler Harris, 12-year-old narrator Hazel Hill knows all about the hassle of friendships: “Someone is always mad at someone, or hiding something from someone, or pretending not to care when they do.” So instead of bonding with other students, she focuses on an upcoming speech contest. But something shifts when Tyler shares another secret: his ex Ella Quinn, who’s also Hazel’s biggest speech competitor, is interested in Hazel. When Hazel, who likes girls, speaks with Ella, another truth comes to the fore: Ella lied about the crush to get Tyler to stop viciously harassing her online. Hazel’s knowledge of Tyler soon corroborates Ella’s claim, but when Hazel unites with Ella and her best friend to report Tyler’s actions, none of the adults they approach will listen. Instead, the girls realize they must take action to expose the truth. Via Hazel’s funny, self-aware voice and a fully rendered secondary cast, Horne’s debut realistically limns the seventh graders’ plight—including the very real fear of shaming and retaliation—alongside Hazel’s organic arc toward friendship and empowerment. Characters default to white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Claire Friedman, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)