How To Be Luminous

336p. Roaring Brook. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626723757.
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Minnie Sloe is struggling: ever since her vivacious artist mother disappeared three months earlier, she's been trapped in a downward spiral of isolation and depression. She's supposed to be finalizing her portfolio for admission to art school next year, but Minnie's grief is so profound that she's lost her inspiration and can't even see in color anymore (the novel features an ongoing poetic list of every color she's "lost"). Minnie's formidable older sister Niko, who's deaf and communicates using British Sign Language, and precocious younger sister Emmy-Kate, both seem to have moved on in life without their mother. Minnie believes that no one understands her despair until she meets Felix, a new boy in her art class at school. Felix is intense and harbors tragic secrets of his own, and as Minnie finds herself drawn to him, she makes a series of self-destructive decisions that will culminate in heartache for everyone she loves. Hapgood's prose is lyrical and inventive as she explores the desolation of mental illness, but the novel's emotional impact is muted by one-dimensional characterization and a too-tidy resolution of Minnie's depressive state.
VERDICT Potentially rewarding for mature and patient readers; recommended for fans of the author's previous work.

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