cover image Be That Way

Be That Way

Hope Larson. Holiday House/Ferguson, $22.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4761-9

Evoking a teen’s private journal complete with comics, drawings, and 1990s ephemera, Larson (All My Friends) chronicles a year in the life of an artsy 11th grader figuring out who she wants to be. On Jan. 3, 1996, Christine resolves to become “shiny” like her “incandescent” bestie Landry, who is attending a different school for the first time. To be more like Landry, Christine believes she must be more outgoing and find a boyfriend, goals she balances alongside getting her first job, saving for a car, and growing more confident in her writing and art. As her friendship with Landry wanes and new relationships take its place—such as those with film-loving new best friend Paul and a budding romance with the boy next door—Christine is forced to consider whether she wants to continue embodying Landry’s persona or create an identity that’s all her own. Pre-internet cultural references may elude contemporary teens, but specificity of time, place, and character render a vibrant, lived-in narrative. Elaborately designed pencil sketches feature beside cartoon renditions of key players in Christine’s life, crafting an empowering story that hits the right balance of big events and daily minutiae. Ages 14–up. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary Management. (Oct.)