The Spy Who Raised Me

Graphic Universe. Apr. 2021. 176p. Tr $33.32. ISBN 9781541532403; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781728412917.
Gr 7 Up–A teen discovers a secret identity and tries to forge her own path. Josie is always exhausted—she travels with her mom on business trips but usually ends up sleeping through the whole adventure. Sometimes she loses track of time, and there are gaps in her memory. Josie’s parents tell her these experiences are normal for a teen, and though Josie knows that’s not true, she can’t figure out what’s going on. Finally, her mom reveals that Josie is a spy. Her mother works for the Company, a spy agency that has secretly programmed Josie to fight and speak a dozen languages—all without Josie realizing it. Her mom tried to stop it, but, as she tells Josie, “You don’t say no to the Company.” Josie doesn’t want to be controlled any longer, and she’ll do anything to find out the whole truth. Despite a thrilling premise, this graphic novel fails to build excitement. Anderson’s attempts to fold in a message about defining one’s own destiny fall flat due to poor plotting and character development. Sketchy, red-tinged art lacks definition and often makes the narrative hard to follow. Josie and her family are white; her friend Zoe appears to be brown-skinned.
VERDICT This story of a girl secretly turned spy wrestles with an intriguing plot but fails to deliver.

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