cover image Spinning Out

Spinning Out

David Stahler Jr.. Chronicle, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7780-0

Stahler (the Truesight trilogy) delivers a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking look at the dual toll grief and mental illness take on teenagers%E2%80%94both on the sufferers and on everyone around them. Frenchy is intent on spending his senior year smoking weed and trying to blot out the death of his father in combat. But his best friend and fellow practical joker Stewart persuades him to try out for the school musical, The Man of La Mancha, and before Frenchy knows it, he's playing Sancho to Stewart's Don Quixote. But Stewart is also tilting at windmills in real life%E2%80%94he and his family oppose the wind turbines that have become a part of their town%E2%80%94and his obsession with the play seems to dominate his life, even as Frenchy tries to deal with his mother's new beau and his own potential love interest. Stahler creates a solid narrator in Frenchy, ably balancing his grief, confusion over Stewart's deteriorating mental state, and elation at his dawning relationship with stage manager Kaela. The resulting denouement is chaotic and heart-wrenching. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (June)