cover image What About Will

What About Will

Ellen Hopkins. Putnam, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-10864-2

In effective verse, Hopkins (Closer to Nowhere) tells an honest and moving portrait of a family in flux as they navigate newfound emotional and physical distance. In Las Vegas, 12-year-old STEM geek and baseball pitcher Trace Reynolds, who is of Puerto Rican and French descent, has always been close to his brother Will, but 17 months after Will experiences a traumatic brain injury during a football game, which results in cranial nerve damage and a facial tic, Trace feels overlooked and unheard. Their parents have divorced following the incident, the siblings’ mother has embarked on an endless tour with her band, and their father is focused on work and a new relationship. When 17-year-old Will begins acting uncharacteristically, showing symptoms of depression and uncontrollable anger after his injury, only Trace seems to notice his stealing money, lying, and, most concerningly, suddenly taking new pills. Will’s affirming friendships, like that with teammate Catalina Sánchez, who is intimately familiar with the impact of substance abuse, highlight the importance of community support when navigating trauma and addiction. Hopkins tenderly portrays a younger brother learning to advocate for himself and those he loves by speaking up and asking for help. Ages 10–up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)