cover image Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall

Remy Lai. Holt, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-31411-6

Henry Khoo chronicles his life quandaries in this fresh, idiosyncratic story that meshes prose and graphic novel formats. The 12-year-old Australian resident feels suffocated and sometimes humiliated by his overprotective mother and older sister, and is convinced that his father in Singapore, with whom he shares only perfunctory phone conversations, doesn’t like him. At school, Henry’s best and only friend suddenly adopts a new passel of pals, leaving him alone, resentful, and ready to retaliate. The multistranded plot unfolds in Henry’s notebook, brimming with hyperbolic line drawings that are charged with imagination, emotion, and humor. (He portrays his mother and sister as anthropomorphized helicopters hovering overhead, while a flattened Henry exclaims, “You’ve turned me into a helipad!”) The disgruntled boy makes some uncharacteristically bold, even reckless, moves. He creates the anonymous blog Fly on the Wall (the name reflects his feeling of invisibility), which features mean-spirited cartoons of classmates, and he surreptitiously flies alone to Singapore to speak with his father about some long-percolating questions. As she did in Pie in the Sky, Lai deftly mines the angst and conundrums of life as a dual-cultural adolescent fording the turbulent torrents of peer and family relationships. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Sept.) [/em]