cover image Black Helicopters

Black Helicopters

Blythe Woolston. Candlewick, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6146-5

This brief but razor-sharp novel from Woolston (Catch & Release) is as unpredictable as the bomb strapped to the chest of the girl at its center, 15-year-old Valkyrie White. Raised in isolation in remote Montana, Valkyrie was four years old when her mother was killed tending the garden after black helicopters passed overhead. She and her brother are brought up by their father, who believes in being a free and free-thinking person, and who is happy to deliver violent messages for a price, such as targeting an “activist” judge. It’s a path that, following more tragedies, finds Valkyrie dressed as an ordinary girl, an explosive hidden beneath her hoodie, riding in a U-Haul truck headed out into the world. Valkyrie makes every word count in her narration, which makes sense coming from a girl who grew up with such rules as “Never waste an opportunity to conserve resources.” The ambiguities and of-the-moment realism of Woolston’s story muddy the lines between right and wrong, while giving provocative insight into the mindset of those who see modern government as an unnecessary evil. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Mar.)