cover image The Final Cut

The Final Cut

Denis Markell. Delacorte, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-18066-2

Brooklynite Alexander Davis seeks to engineer a fresh start for seventh grade at affluent Saint Anselm’s, embracing a new look and nickname, and hoping to get into a coveted elective class on video game theory. But when Alex, who reads as white, ends up in film studies, he’s partnered with popular Priti Sharma, of Indian descent, and pale-skinned, tech-security obsessed Theo Schatten to produce a film and compete in the school’s 50th anniversary Golden Reel film festival. Soon, sabotage threatens to derail the filming of their movie as well as construction of a local building development that Alex’s building commissioner father is overseeing. The group scrambles to uncover the source, suspecting a rival teacher’s film students, local citizens who want to preserve the neighborhood, and a local politician. Didactically rendered social justice lessons sometimes take an awkward tone in Markell’s (The Ghost in Apartment 2R) otherwise humorously told mystery, but plenty of snappy dialogue and reluctant camaraderie make for an appealing neighborhood caper. Ages 10–up. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Apr.)