cover image The Real Us

The Real Us

Tommy Greenwald, illus. by J.P. Coovert. Roaring Brook, $13.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62672-171-5

Calista Getz starts eighth grade as “the prettiest girl in the room,” and she worries that all anyone sees or knows of her is how she looks. Laura, her former best friend, is teased because of her weight, and Damian, a lonely artist who sweats excessively, is on the social sidelines as well. When Calista gets a pimple, rash, and swollen nose in a single day, her looks suffer, leaving her to consider who she might be without them, and how things that don’t fit with how others see her (such as her love of soccer and reading) might be more important than she thinks. Alternating among the perspectives of all three adolescents, Greenwald (the Charlie Joe Jackson series) digs into the social dynamics of middle school as the story builds to the first school dance of the year. All three characters lay bare their insecurities and shared sense of being trapped in the school’s hierarchy, resulting in a message-heavy but moving story about identity, public pressures, and self-acceptance. Art not seen by PW. Ages 9–12. Author’s agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Aug)