Lifetime Passes

Abrams/Surely. Nov. 2021. 160p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9781419746666; pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781419746673.
Gr 9 Up–Blas and Aguirre’s latest collaboration is a darkly comedic graphic novel about a teenage scheme gone awry. Friends Jackie, Nikki, Berke, and Daniel are united by their common love of the fictional Kingdom Adventure theme park in Santa Clarita. But as summer draws to a close, Jackie learns that Tía Gina—her caregiver in her deported parents’ absence—can’t afford to renew her season pass to the park. In a stroke of macabre genius, Jackie devises a plan. The park rules state that if someone dies on the premises, then all members of the group get lifetime passes. Jackie’s idea? Bring elders into the park to die. Finding candidates from the assisted living facility where Tía Gina works, Jackie and her friends first volunteer to chaperone a very eager Phyllis. When Phyllis calls Jackie out for putting on an act, her friendships begin to unravel—and she and Phyllis grow closer. Will they ever get their passes? The first release from the publisher’s Surely imprint refreshingly presents queer characters in a plot that has nothing to do with coming out. The brisk storytelling and imaginative full-color art evoke the hubbub of the theme park. However, Aguirre adds tender moments of stillness as characters relive memories or connect on a deeper level. Though many identities aren’t labeled outright, Jackie is cued Latinx and the cast is diverse in skin tone, age, and sexuality. Elder recollections of past loves make this a good read-alike for Tee Franklin’s Bingo Love.
VERDICT Touching intergenerational friendships and endearing characters make for a satirical story with heart. Highly recommended.

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