cover image A Little Like Waking

A Little Like Waking

Adam Rex. Roaring Brook, $20.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-2506-2191-7

While running late for a final exam and biking furiously through her small town, white teenager Zelda narrowly misses being hit by a car and meets Langston, a handsome Black boy sprawled in the bushes. This meet-cute—and various encounters before it, including the greeting she received from the gate to her house (“ ‘MORning,’ creaks the gate as it opens”)—leads to Zelda realizing that her entire life, including her town and everyone in it, is a dream. Accompanied by Langston and her poetry-spouting, once-dead cat Patches, Zelda endeavors to travel to the edge of the vision, discover the identity of the dreamer, and hopefully return to waking life. Along the way, the trio meets fantastical apparitions (dodgeball-throwing gym teachers on horseback, a sinister laundromat clown, and a 1980s-themed carnival), and muddle through challenges in a world where the rules are constantly changing. Yet the closer they get to the edge, the more apprehensive Zelda and Langston become about their impending separation once the dreamer wakes. By turns existential and goofy, this campy, off-the-beaten-path story by Rex (Fat Vampire), propelled via an immediate, stream-of-conscious present-tense voice and sprinkled with beguiling b&w artwork, ruminates on themes of loss and love. Ages 12–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)