Any Place But Here

Sourcebooks/Fire. May 2021. 336p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781492677062.
Gr 9 Up–June has recently been asked to leave her prestigious high school after a drunken school dance appearance with her best friend Jess. For the second half of her junior year, June will be living with her grandmother four hours away and attending a new, all-girls school. June, who has built her life around her friendship with Jess, feels lost and unsure on her own. Even as she begins to fit in with her new classmates, she has lingering questions about her own identity, her feelings for Jess, and how to reconcile the person she used to be with the person she’s becoming. This novel does a good job of illustrating complex teen emotions, especially the precariousness of growing up and wanting to fit in despite not yet being sure where you belong. Topics broached include teen drinking, defining one’s sexuality (the story includes lesbian and bisexual characters), and repairing a toxic friendship. June’s actions can be frustrating at times, and not everything is resolved at the novel’s end, but teen readers will likely find this uncertainty relatable. June and most other characters’ ethnicity isn’t stated, though the cast includes characters who are Asian and Black.
VERDICT Fans of Julie Murphy’s Ramona Blue and Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay will enjoy this introspective, emotional novel.

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