Every Variable of Us

North Star Editions. Mar. 2022. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781635830743.
Gr 9 Up–Philly teen Alexis is the star of her school’s girls’ basketball team, and dreams of getting a sports scholarship that will take her out of her underserved, poverty-stricken community of Hargrove. That all changes when, caught in the middle of a gang conflict, Lex is shot and loses her ability to play ball for good. Friendship with Aamani, a recent transplant from New Jersey, opens up a new world of possibility, both academically and possibly romantically. But just when Lex is beginning to think there might be a future outside of Hargrove, tragedy strikes again and threatens to pull her back under. Excessive similes and an abundance of hit-or-miss pop culture references weigh down otherwise lively prose and a joyful character voice of great immediacy and empathy. The characters are predominantly Black, including the main character, with Hindu Indian American and Asian American characters also featuring prominently. Trigger warnings for racism, homophobia, and instances of and references to child neglect and/or abuse.
VERDICT Language, violence, and sexual content will likely attract bans and challenges, but it’s a worthwhile fight, as Bush’s social realism combined with insightful representation will appeal strongly to teens eager to see themselves and their struggles represented accurately, particularly those teens who may have been steered toward athletics despite academic potential.

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