FICTION

The Lightness of Hands

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Apr. 2020. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062382894.
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Gr 9 Up–For Ellie Dante, life presents constant obstacles. Living in an old RV with her father, a magician of lapsed fame, she struggles to pay for food, gas, and the basics as they travel the country looking for gigs. After dropping out of high school and enrolling in an online program, Ellie fights against spotty Wi-Fi and impossible time constraints to tackle her academic work. But the most challenging hurdle is her bipolar II disorder. With money running low and no health insurance, Ellie and her father, who has a heart condition, are in constant medical danger. When Ellie has the opportunity to help her father gain a second chance at fame, she reluctantly pushes forward and does everything she can to save his reputation. Garvin not only captures the intricacies of teenage emotion perfectly, but also successfully integrates the painful, complex symptoms of Ellie’s mental illness into the more mundane concerns of her daily life. He paints a realistic, startling portrait of what it’s like for a high school girl with bipolar II to get through each day. Using the unique, captivating backdrop of the field of magic, the author creates an unforgettable tale that is sure to help teens imagine what it’s like to be on the verge of homelessness while also fighting mental illness.
VERDICT An important, moving portrayal of the way mental illness affects the life of a teenage girl; a worthy addition to any library.

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