We Are All So Good at Smiling

Macmillan Audio. Jan. 2023. 345p. $10.99. ISBN 9781250877413.
Gr 9 Up–McBride presents another affecting author/narrator performance of her sophomore novel in verse, repeating the dual-credited success of her 2021 National Book Award Finalist debut, Me (Moth). Her opening “A Note Before Entering the Forest,” which warns of “clinical depression, self-harm & suicide,” sets a somber tone throughout. Atmospheric music announces each new chapter in the recovery journey of two teens, Whimsy and Faerry, who meet while hospitalized. The members of their group therapy circle to which Whimsy “assign[s] each person a Fairy Tale name” will play vital roles in the pair’s survival. An author’s note insistently reminds, “Stories keep the world intact.” Whimsy & Faerry’s Playlist follows, ending with acknowledgments that underscore the lifesaving power of poetry.
VERDICT McBride’s self-described “book about depression & pain & hope” is a healing balm for suffering souls.

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