cover image Girl Parts

Girl Parts

John M. Cusick, Candlewick, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4930-2

In a very near future America where 750 viewers watch a teenager commit suicide online and do nothing, are humans more human than an android who looks and acts the part? With an almost anthropological eye, first-time novelist Cusick digs into the connections people make—physically, emotionally, and technologically. After David Sun’s parents learn that he witnessed the local girl’s death and didn’t intervene, they grow concerned that he has become “disassociated” from life, due to an overreliance on technology. The solution? More technology, of course, in the form of Rose, a Companion bot, which “dissuades dehumanizing behaviors and encourages healthy human interaction.” Rose is a redheaded bombshell, and while there are the requisite moments of misunderstood slang and other faux pas, she’s no more lost than the teenagers she meets, like scruffy loner Charlie. It’s Rose’s growth, with Charlie’s help after she’s brutally rejected by David, which forms the emotional core of this bittersweet and prescient novel, and which make the teenager-as-robot metaphor work so well. “He’s the whole universe,” Rose says of David, who alone she’s programmed to connect with. “What am I supposed to do?” Ages 14–up. (Aug.)