Mid Air

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy. Apr. 2024. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481465830.
Gr 5-8–Managing grief is difficult, even more so for a 13-year-old boy processing the death of a best friend. Isaiah, Darius, and Drew skate together, do stunts, and break world records. But then one earth-shattering day, while trying to get the record for longest wheelie, Darius is hit by a car, and everything changes. Isaiah loses his best friend, but also finds that Drew is shutting down and disappearing. Isaiah is on the verge of losing both his boys, and in the midst of that has to face his true self before he loses that, too. In lovely verse, Williams tells a powerful story of a young teenager struggling in the wake of a friend’s death. Isaiah’s fear is palpable and very relatable to those with a habit of freezing in stressful situations. Observing him overcome his fears, both of risky stunts and of showing people his true self, is incredibly empowering. This novel also skillfully deals with issues of absent fathers, friendship changes, and prejudice. Interspersed are Novgorodoff’s beautiful watercolor illustrations that perfectly complement the story. All characters read as Black.
VERDICT A quietly stunning novel in verse about grief and learning to accept yourself. Recommended for all middle grade collections.

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