GRAPHIC NOVELS

A Map to the Sun

First Second. Aug. 2020. 368p. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781250146687.
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Gr 9 Up–Ren and Luna were inseparable after meeting the summer before their first year of high school. Then a family tragedy necessitated a move for Luna, and despite Ren’s attempts to reach out, she never got a response from her erstwhile best friend. Fast-forward a couple years and Luna is back, eager to rekindle their friendship. But Ren is dealing with a mountain of trouble: a sister entangled in drugs and abusive relationships, her parents’ separation, and her lingering resentment toward Luna for never texting back. Basketball brought Ren and Luna together in the first place, and Luna tries to use their passion for the sport as a path back to their close-knit friendship. A new teacher announces a girls’ team tryout, and Ren and Luna both show up, along with some of Ren’s friends and a tall girl recruited at a party by an intoxicated and bold Luna. There is a lot going on in this captivating graphic novel—a teacher-student relationship, body shaming, cutting, queer undertones, familial addiction, and regular teen drama. Still, Leong offers an intricate exploration of camaraderie, teamwork, friendship, and expression with a BIPOC cast of characters. The color work is gorgeous, with dreamy greens, purples, and yellows setting a breathtaking, surreal backdrop for the realistic story. The illustrations of the game scenes are captivating, full of movement and power.
VERDICT A vivid explosion of color, this tale shines.

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