Confessions of a Candy Snatcher

Candlewick. Aug. 2023. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536213683.
Gr 6 Up–A profoundly relatable debut, this middle grade novel is told from the perspective of Jonas, a Black seventh grader. He begins to receive anonymous letters in his locker and immediately knows that someone saw what happened on Halloween, when what started as a fairly innocent candy-grabbing spree with his friends ended with Jonas face-to-face with a victim who fought back. Things get harder when his best friend C. asks him to write about “the worst thing he ever did” for her zine, as he confronts his role in the events of that night. Questions about who Jonas is, who his friends are and what their influence on him is, physical boundaries and consent, and exploring responsibility for his actions are at the core of this book. The tone is heartbreakingly innocent, brilliantly so, translating the confusion of middle school and the worry of growing up into the acceptance of all manner of hard truths. Ultimately, Jonas’s character is likable and smart, a kid trying to balance his social world with his parents’ messy separation, which colors how he interacts with the world. Readers will be completely immersed in this unique, multilayered tale.
VERDICT A definite purchase for a middle school library, this debut novel with a delightfully diverse cast provides a truthful account of peer pressure, divorce, and consent.

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