Farrar. Apr. 2022. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374314378; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781250866516.
Gr 5 Up–Fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander will delight in Elliott and Miller-Lachmann’s novel-in-verse told in dual perspectives. Set in 1982 Brooklyn, this novel features characters who discover themselves and art as a form of rebellion. Pierre “Pie” Velez is Puerto Rican and Congolese American. He lives with his mother, who struggles with mental health issues, and his younger sister. Pie holds his family together while scoring top grades in his class. Art drives him, whether it’s graffiti or the works of his idol, Jean Michel Basquiat. J.J. Pankowski is a Polish American middle schooler who moves to Brooklyn when his father loses his job and the family must leave their home on Long Island. Despite being inspired by The Clash, punk rock, and labor rights in the United States and Poland, J.J. is shy and tries to be as invisible as possible in his new school. When Pie helps him avoid the social minefield that is the middle school cafeteria, J.J. is determined to become friends. A touching story of race, class, and friendship, this story does not end with a neat bow but on a realistic note. Back matter includes authors’ notes on inspiration and setting and explains autism diagnoses at the time and how they apply to J.J. However, there is no explicit reference within the text.
VERDICT A recommended must-have for middle and high school collections looking to expand their upper middle-grade offerings.

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