Under Shifting Stars

HMH. Sept. 2020. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358067757.
Gr 7 Up–Twins Audrey and Clare have been growing apart for a while, and it doesn’t seem like high school is going to bring them any closer. Audrey is at a new school that has a better program for neurodiverse students, while Clare is struggling to maintain her popularity despite finding having little in common with her friends. Both twins are also grieving in their own ways for their brother, who died in a car accident a few months ago. Audrey knows that his death was her fault, and that Clare blames her too. Audrey also knows that if she can just get back to “normal” school with Clare, they can reestablish their bond and Clare will forgive her. She just needs to find a way to convince everyone else that it’s a good idea. Meanwhile, Clare’s grief causes her to withdraw from her normal life, and she pulls away more when she begins to explore her gender identity. Latos’s character-driven narrative carries the twins along parallel paths. They fall in love, discover new passions, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves. As a second tragedy threatens, Clare and Audrey find their way back to one another. The straightforward writing allows readers to stand in the eye of a hurricane of issues, and depicts intersectionality so deftly that readers feel the chaos of Clare’s thoughts and sympathize with Audrey’s need to plan for every eventuality.
VERDICT Highly recommended. Give this to readers who are looking for issues-based fiction and anyone who enjoys getting into a character’s head.

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