Baby & Solo

Lisabeth Posthuma. Candlewick, $19.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1303-4
Nearly a decade after “The Bad Thing” occurred and “What Was Wrong With Me” set in, 17-year-old Joel just wants to be “Normal.” Following years of psychiatric treatment and despite Joel’s mother’s concern, Joel’s therapist suggests that he “try life out” in the form of employment. Soon, he lands a job at ROYO Video, where no one knows about his history and he can even take on a new film character name—Han Solo. He soon forms a close bond with coworker Nicole (“Baby,” from Dirty Dancing), a teen navigating a situation of her own, but fears telling her about his past. The suspense in Posthuma’s (Song’s Eight Six, for adults) heartfelt, Michigan-set novel with a largely white cast comes not from discerning “The Bad Thing That Happened” or the nature of Joel’s history—readers will form a general idea early on—but rather how Joel will come to terms with the past. Outspoken, sarcastic Nicole makes an amusing foil to quiet, introspective Joel, and the duo’s vividly portrayed video store workplace lends an era-specific liveliness. Though the book takes place in 1996, the issues it addresses, including the lingering effects of trauma, remain relevant. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/18/2021
Release date: 05/11/2021
Genre: Children's
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