Not a Unicorn

Chronicle. Sept. 2021. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781797203058.
Gr 5 Up–Jewel, a lower-class, white eighth grader has a unicorn horn on her head. The horn, through the accidental impaling of a fellow student, causes her to be exiled to the “freak table” in the cafeteria, to be teased mercilessly, and to lose her best friend. Jewel wants nothing more than to get rid of the horn, and is willing to risk her life to get it surgically removed. But after it’s gone, Jewel wonders if the gaining of popularity and her ex–best friend are worth the sacrifice of her “freak” friends and her unicorn. The story feels disjointed at times due to the many story lines happening at once. Jewel is involved in a French competition for her essay about loathing her horn, her friend Mystic steals jewelry from the popular girl, Jewel goes to California to have the horn removed, and she has a unicorn that follows her and is dying when she removes her horn. There is a graphic novel that plays a big role, but is written in text instead of a more visual form that may have been more beneficial to the plot. All of the secondary characters are cued as white. Though the story could have been executed better, the overall concept is somewhat solid, though it may seem a little juvenile to early middle schoolers. There is a suspenseful and satisfying ending despite its many flaws.
VERDICT Suitable for upper elementary and middle schoolers who have a deep love of coming-of-age tales and unicorns.

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