cover image Words We Don’t Say

Words We Don’t Say

K.J. Reilly. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-368-01633-9

In a debut filled with heart and wit, Reilly draws a memorable portrait of a teen struggling with big problems beyond his control. High school junior Joel is grieving over a loss when he signs up to work at a soup kitchen to fulfill a community service requirement. He is joined by his crush, enthusiastic do-gooder Eli, and new student Benj, an outcast rumored to have poisoned both his parents. With their disparate personalities, the three make an odd, comical trio when they meet Wednesday nights to feed the homeless, but they have two things in common: all are touched by the circumstances of the people they serve, and they become more aware of global issues through the banned books they’re reading for English class. If he can’t save the world, Joel is bent on helping one person, but assisting a homeless veteran suffering from PTSD proves to be a more dangerous endeavor than he imagined. Written in a first-person narrative and as a series of texts Joel composes but never sends, this novel traces with remarkable sensitivity how a vulnerable adolescent becomes less absorbed in his own suffering as he reaches out to others. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Molly O’Neill, Waxman Leavell Literary. (Oct.) [/em]