Slip

Marika McCoola, illus. by Aatmaja Pandya. Algonquin, $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-61620-789-2

Shortly before high schooler Jade begins a monthlong summer art residency, her best friend, Phoebe, is hospitalized following a suicide attempt. Isolated by the rustic Art Farm’s cell phone–free campus, Jade attempts to find a driving concept for her ceramics while struggling to understand Phoebe’s actions as well as cope with feeling like she abandoned her friend. Working alongside talented peers and exacting instructors, and forming a strong connection with another artist, Mary, Jade feels ever more conflicted about leaving Phoebe behind—especially when her art, including a memory of Phoebe, literally comes to life. Debut artist Pandya portrays the characters simply, employing bold lines and sparse distinguishing details against richly depicted environments, all rendered in dreamy grays and electric pinks. Though the story centers conversations regarding mental health and its intersection with art, a lack of in-depth discussion and additional character development undercuts the narrative’s overall impact. Text by McCoola (Baba Yaga’s Assistant) ruminates, through Jade’s interior thoughts and external dialogue, on themes of guilt and pressure. Characters are portrayed with varying skin tones. Ages 14–up. Agent (for McCoola and Pandya): Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary. (June)
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