cover image Breakout


Kate Messner. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (420p) ISBN 978-1-68119-536-0

In Wolf Creek, a small town in upstate New York, middle school students learn that they’ll develop a time capsule project as a summer letter-writing assignment. Best friends Nora and Lizzie, as well as new girl Elidee, imagine sharing tales of ice cream and swimming. But after two inmates escape from the local maximum-security prison, where Nora’s father is the superintendent and Elidee’s brother is an inmate, a new side of the friendly community is slowly revealed. Elidee’s experience of racism as one of the only black people in town makes Nora and Lizzie rethink just how welcoming Wolf Creek is. Narrated by all three girls through letters, recorded conversations, and texts, this is an effective, authentically wrought look at how fear and ignorance can lead people to treat those of different races or from different places with suspicion. Messner (The Exact Location of Home) shines a light on the ways that people are blind to their own privilege while quick to judge others. Though the look at societal racism, as in the prison system, is well explained, it’s the racism Nora and Lizzie discover in themselves, and their desire to change it, that will linger with readers. Ages 10–14. [em]Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June) [/em]