cover image Love Is the Drug

Love Is the Drug

Alaya Dawn Johnson. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-545-41781-5

Emily Bird knows what she’s supposed to do: graduate from her posh Washington, D.C., prep school; attend an Ivy League school; hold onto her appropriate boyfriend; keep her too-kinky hair chemically tamed; and assume her place among the elite. But a flu pandemic, which may be bioterrorism, means drones, tanks, quarantines, and more work for Emily’s parents—government scientists so busy that they don’t come home when Emily ends up in the hospital. That’s where Johnson’s story starts, with Emily under government observation, wondering whom to trust, and trying to figure out whether she’s ready to quit being good-girl Emily and become independent Bird. Johnson (The Summer Prince) blends high school drama, cloak-and-dagger intrigue, race and class inequities, coming of age, and a passionate love story, blending these disparate elements into a narrative that both requires and repays attention. Watching Bird make her way through a world filled with dangers—biological, political, personal—and find not just love, but also herself, makes for rewarding reading. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Sept.)