My Life in Black and White

304p. Viking. June 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-670-78494-3; pap. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01303-6.
Gr 8 Up—"My life is over." Or at least that's what 15-year-old Lexi thinks when she wakes up in a hospital with her face bandaged. When she finally looks in a mirror, instead of her once-stunning reflection, she sees zigzagged stitches, a skin graft, bruising, and swelling. Before her accident, Lexi had ruled the school with her friend Taylor and her hot boyfriend, Ryan, but everything changes when Taylor hooks up with Ryan at a party, setting off a chain of events that leaves Lexi in a car crash. She is about to find out that she's more than just a pretty face as she slowly develops the confidence to make new friends and try new things while also learning to forgive. The teen's journey toward recognizing that things aren't always black and white—that more often than not life is a lot of gray—is riveting. Readers will be engrossed in her story as she struggles to adapt to her new identity, learns to accept that a senior photojournalist, Theo, is romantically interested in her, and comes to understand that her mom has actually been listening to her more than she thought. The relationship that Lexi develops with her dorky older sister, who offers practical guidance and much-needed perspective, is the highlight of this story. It's frustrating that the unwanted sexual advances that led to Lexi's car crash go unaddressed, but readers who enjoy satisfying character transformations, such as in Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall (HarperCollins, 2010), will be rapidly flipping the pages of Friend's well-written and thoughtful novel.—Rachael Myers-Ricker, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY
Others have defined Lexi as beautiful. Now it's how she defines herself. So when her face goes through a windshield on the same night that her best friend betrays her, Lexi wonders who she is and, ultimately, who she wants to be. Lexi's voice is spot on and her transformation is satisfying (if tidy) in this well-crafted exploration of family, friendship, and self.

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