cover image As Far as You’ll Take Me

As Far as You’ll Take Me

Phil Stamper. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0017-5

Seventeen-year-old Marty Pierce is a rule follower who googles everything in advance to avoid surprises. He’s also “pretty good at lying”—first to keep his sexuality a secret from his religious, homophobic parents, and now to craft an elaborate escape plan from his “suffocating” life in Kentucky. His folks think he’s headed to a summer music program in London, but he’s actually planning to use the three months to secure a professional oboe gig. A chronic worrier, Marty has a lot to cope with in London, even without constant fear that his lies will be found out: he’s busking to make ends meet, stressing about his body image, and navigating relationships, including a diverse new friend group, his domineering best friend back home, and a possible first boyfriend. Stamper (The Gravity of Us) alternates the plot with sections of the diary that Marty kept on an earlier, mishap-filled trip. Stamper piles problems on Marty both in London and at home, but the book’s real strength is Marty’s complexity: even when his anxiety flares up, he finds ways to maintain his mental health and cope with the things that threaten his dreams. Ages 13–up. [em]Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US. (Feb.) [/em]