cover image A Scatter of Light

A Scatter of Light

Malinda Lo. Dutton, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-55528-5

This raw and bittersweet story by Lo, a 2013-set standalone companion to Last Night at the Telegraph Club, follows MIT-bound 18-year-old Aria West, who’s anticipating spending her summer visiting friends on Martha’s Vineyard, like she does every year. But those plans are canceled when a classmate circulates topless photos of Aria online just before graduation. Disappointed and blaming her for the photo leak, Aria’s parents send her to stay with her paternal grandmother in “the remote woods of Marin County” outside of San Francisco, where she immediately connects with gender-nonconforming singer-songwriter Steph Nichols. Led by Steph, Steph’s possessive girlfriend, and their acerbic friend Mel Lopez, Aria immerses herself in San Francisco’s joyous LBGTQ culture. Aria’s enthusiastic exploration of her sexuality, her growing feelings for Steph, and her discovery of old photos, videotapes, and papers from her divorced parents’ complicated history turn what she assumed would be a lonely summer in exile into a transformative experience. Aria’s vulnerable narration is an intensely driving force in this expansive tale of yearning, self-discovery, and first love. Aria is white and Chinese; Mel is Latinx-cued; most other characters read as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Oct.)