cover image 37 Things I Love (in No Particular Order)

37 Things I Love (in No Particular Order)

Kekla Magoon. Holt, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9465-7

Magoon (Camo Girl) gently but unflinchingly explores difficult adolescent territory in this intelligent, affecting novel. Set over the last four days before summer vacation, the book traces 15-year-old Ellis’s complex emotional journey as she confronts the inevitable death of her comatose father, who was injured in a construction accident two years earlier, navigates volatile friendship dramas, explores her sexual identity, and struggles with her evolving relationship with her mother. Deftly developed characters (including well-drawn minor ones) and highly credible relationships—especially the loving yet testy push-and-pull (“a flawed and fragile thing,” notes Ellis) between Ellis and her mother—ground the book. Magoon persuasively depicts the high school social scene and Ellis’s simultaneously secure and awkward role in it; her memories of her father are particularly well rendered with a love that avoids lapsing into sentimentality. Both perceptive and perplexed—“I am torn. Abby: best friend or today’s pariah? Evan: savior of the hour or he who may try to feel me up?”—Ellis tells her story in a singular voice that captures and holds readers’ interest and empathy. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (May)