Tin House. Mar. 2021. 144p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781951142339.
Gr 9 Up–Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat meets Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls in this short illustrated novel set in the 1990s. When Ali first meets pale, skinny Justine at a grocery store, she is instantly infatuated. Unsure if she wants to be with her or to be her, Ali takes a cashier job at the same store just to be near Justine. The two girls quickly form an intense friendship based on a shared love of supermodel trivia and weight loss tips. Ali—renamed Alison—molds herself in Justine’s image, ingratiating herself with her friends, losing weight, and joining her on increasingly risky shoplifting adventures. The only parental figure Ali has is her Swedish grandmother, too preoccupied with Days of Our Lives to notice her granddaughter’s downward spiral. Ali comes to enjoy the vestigial power of living in Justine’s orbit, but struggles to understand the true nature of their relationship. This slight novel, punctuated with black-and-white line drawings, glides along in a stream-of-consciousness style with numerous tangents as the girls and their friends relate often through one-upmanship in their pop culture trivia knowledge. Harmon’s combination of first-person narrative and illustrations makes this work feel akin to a real teenager’s diary or sketchbook. There are scenes of sex, drug use, bulimia, and self-harm.
VERDICT This novel is likely to appeal to older teens as well as adults, to whom the many details of a late 1990s adolescence may appeal.

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