Fight + Flight

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. May 2022. 400p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063053946.
Gr 5 Up–Everyone has something going on, and some more than others. Athletic Avery has hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a painful chronic condition that affects her joints. Sarah has anxiety and experiences panic attacks that she tries to manage by creating art. They both feel as if they are losing control, Avery of her body and Sarah of her mind. The alternating perspectives of these two well-developed characters allow readers realistic glimpses into the teenage mind. Avery is pansexual, has two moms (one who is trans), is going through physical therapy for a shoulder injury that keeps her from riding the bike that she loves, and has a bullied and biracial best friend with ADHD named Mason. Sarah is struggling in her core classes, carries heavy family obligations (having to care for her younger siblings), has an aunt who recently died causing her cousin/best friend to have to move away, and has a gay brother in a Catholic family. Avery and Sarah are brought together by an active shooter drill that the school administration run as if it were real. As a lovely friendship builds, deeper feelings develop and Sarah begins to question her religious upbringing. This is a unique, fast-paced novel with a lot going on and a lot to appreciate. However, it should come with some trigger warnings: chronic and mental illness, school shootings, homophobia, transphobia, racism, bullying, death and loss, to name a few.
VERDICT A solid, character-driven choice for libraries that tackles tough topics with skill and nuance.

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