The Epic Story of Every ­Living Thing

Random/Labyrinth Road. Sept. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593485507.
Gr 8 Up–In the midst of the pandemic, Harper Proulx’s life revolves around her boyfriend Ezra, what ifs, photo filters, and the calm reassurance she receives from likes and comments on Instagram. One day she gets a comment: “you look just like my friend, Dario.” This isn’t the first time it’s happened. She keeps a journal filled with notes on these people and what she knows about MF—her Maybe Father. She reaches out to Dario, who, like her has auburn hair and blue eyes, and the two meet up. They exchange notes and he tells her about the others. Up until this point she’s only used social media to appear as though she’s taking risks, but an unexpected break up with Ezra leads her to start taking real ones. Stepping outside of her comfort zone and into a world of unanswered questions, Harper goes on a trip with Dario and some of her half-siblings to Maui where her biological, sperm-donor father is apparently living. Through this novel about overcoming fear and expectations, Caletti examines what makes a person—is it their DNA, their lived experiences, or the family who raised them? She takes a critical look at the role and impact of technology and social media on the mental health of teens and shows what can be gained by stepping away and being present. Harper’s relatable thoughts and anxieties mirror that of many teens before and during the pandemic, with and without similar family structures.
VERDICT Reminiscent of Natasha Friend’s The Other F-Word and Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree. Highly recommended.

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