S. & S. /Margaret K. McElderry. Feb. 2021. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534477506.
Gr 9 Up–Mangle’s debut provides an eye-opening, gut-wrenching look into the world of survivalists. All 17-year-old Becca Aldaine wants to do is graduate, leave home, and never look back, once she secures a full-ride scholarship. As she waits for news from Carnegie Mellon, Becca dreams of fleeing her insular community, where intense, dangerous survivalist drills and detailed, mind-numbing bunker inventory are the norm—not prom or parties. But when a tragedy befalls Becca’s family, all her plans are thrown into chaos, as she must now worry about leaving her 10-year-old sister Katie behind with an increasingly unmoored mother. As her arranged relationship with her boyfriend Roy—from a neighboring prepper family—begins to change, Becca must weigh what means most to her. Mangle’s evocative prose creates a vivid world where readers will wince at Becca’s emotionally abusive family life and wonder at her innate steeliness and ability to survive. The well-drawn characters are three-dimensional, particularly Becca and Roy, whose Korean background is folded well into the narrative. The ending is exquisitely plotted down to the second and closes the story perfectly. Becca’s ethnicity isn’t stated.
VERDICT Fans of compelling realistic fiction like that of Courtney Summers will love Becca’s journey as they cheer for her to succeed against incredible odds.

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