Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything

HarperCollins/Clarion. Apr. 2023. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780358721642.
Gr 9 Up–A highly anxious teen with a long list of fears is forced to tackle them all at once (and add new ones) when they witness the murder (Fear #3) of a neighbor. Birdwatcher Bianca, a white nonbinary lesbian not yet out to their parents (Fear #11), teams up with their neighbor and only real life friend, Anderson, who is Black, to investigate a murder, which Bianca saw through a telescope. They quickly discover that the murder was not random but linked to a local cult, and follow the clues their neighbor left behind, facing peril at every turn. Working with Bianca’s crush, Chinese American Elaine, and a few others, the only way the murder will get solved is if Bianca can do things like break into a dead guy’s apartment (Fear #55), initiate conversations (Fear #6), and get out of an awful lot of dangerous situations (Fear #26). Fast-paced and well written, the story is as much about finding joy in exploring and discovering one’s identity as it is about a cult and conspiracy. Full of charming and quick-witted characters, even secondary characters, like the up-for-anything stoner Ryan and Anderson’s trans brother, Ronan, shine. Winans makes this murder investigation heartwarming and is the perfect vehicle for Bianca’s growth and bravery, showing them they can’t let their fears hold them back (Fear #70).
VERDICT A suspenseful and satisfying thriller with plenty of heart and humor.

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