cover image Speak for Yourself

Speak for Yourself

Lana Wood Johnson. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-338-66040-1

Johnson (Technically, You Started It) combines the old and the new, balancing familiar romance themes with up-to-date dialogue and text talk in a clever cyber-age novel about an ambitious teen who has everything planned out. Skylar Collins, who is white, wants to own her own tech company in five years; before that, though, she needs to accomplish a few other things. First on the agenda is leading her high school ScholEx team to victory at a regional quiz bowl competition—just as soon as she rounds up enough members to qualify. To get musically inclined Joey on the team, Skylar agrees to find out if Joey’s crush, debate partner Zane, likes her. Skylar brings coding prowess to the problem, creating Requite, a matchmaking app that can answer the question. As the app’s fast-growing popularity demands much time and energy, distracting Skylar from her goals and making her rethink what’s important, her own growing attraction to Zane complicates matters. The novel’s outcome is fairly predictable, with secondary characters that sometimes fall flat, but Johnson successfully conveys the pitfalls of following too narrow a path in a novel whose wit and relatable crises keep pages turning. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Bridget Smith, JABberwocky Literary. (June) [/em]