cover image Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything

Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything

Justine Pucella Winans. Clarion, $19.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-35872-164-2

Sixteen-year-old white lesbian Bianca Torre thought they had enough on their plate dealing with their “full CVS-receipt-long list of fears,” a burgeoning gender identity crisis, and a massive crush on a girl they’re too scared to talk to (“Fear #13: Beautiful Women”). But when the death of their conspiracy-obsessed neighbor is ruled a suicide, Bianca feels compelled to add “solve a murder mystery” to their accounting of troubles. Especially because their bird-watching—and people-watching—habit resulted in their being the sole witness to their neighbor’s murder by a knife-wielding stranger wearing a beaked plague doctor mask. With the help of their Black best friend Anderson Coleman and their Chinese American crush Elaine Yee, Bianca embarks on an investigation to find the culprit despite “Fear #3: Murder.” But as the trio delve further into their inquiry, Bianca must drum up the courage to push past “Fear #26: Dangerous situations in general”—or risk jeopardizing their loved ones. Via Bianca’s savvy teenage voice, punctuated by humor both whip-smart and absurdly campy, Winans portrays Bianca’s gender exploration and timid steps toward bravery with as much heft as the narrative’s deliberately plotted overarching mystery in this exuberant read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jordan Hamessley, New Leaf Literary and Media. (Apr.)