cover image Year on Fire

Year on Fire

Julie Buxbaum. Delacorte, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-984893-66-6

Four 16-year-olds’ emotionally tumultuous junior year is further complicated when their Los Angeles high school is targeted by an arsonist. Twins Imogen and Archer Gibson, cued white, and Paige Cohen-Chen, who is Jewish and Chinese American, have been best friends since seventh grade. But tensions rise between them after Arch kisses Paige’s now ex-boyfriend, Jackson. In a desperate attempt to protect her brother, Immie claims the betrayal as her own and resolves to make it up to Paige. So after Paige expresses romantic interest in a new student from London, brown-skinned Rohan Singh, Immie steps aside. But when their school’s east wing is set aflame and Immie and Ro’s feelings toward each other intensify, the friends’ relationships begin to implode under the weight of their combined lies and omissions, concealing acts of self-harm, domestic abuse, and further betrayal. Portrayals of healthy teen romance provide a hopeful backdrop as family trauma and insecurities come to light and the group works to rebuild their friendship. Told from four alternating perspectives, Buxbaum (Admission) employs a limited third-person narrative, illustrating often-striking differences between the teens’ distinct internal monologues in this tender exploration of love and loyalty. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Apr.)