332p. ebook available. LeafStorm Pr. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780997020700.
Gr 9 Up—This novel featuring Coy, a quirky ninth grader in Red Rock, AZ, might find wider interest among adults rather than teens. The protagonist's partner in crime has always been Monroe, the irreverent outsider with whom he joined forces at the start of middle school. Roe's goth-emo standoffishness has helped to make the two of them a social island. When Monroe's braces or maybe some allergy to nickel or mold—or the world itself—causes disfiguring redness and peeling all around her mouth, face, and hands, she becomes even more of a pariah, missing enough school that Coy even starts to talk to popular "Trees," people from the top of the social strata, like Avree. He likes feeling a bit less adversarial with his classmates, even while he feels guilty for Monroe's ordeal. To make Coy's life even more complicated, his mother has been in mental health treatment for months, and his stepfather, Dan, does all that he can to fill the parental void. Coy's first-person voice is a combination of a witty, world-weary adult and nervous, quirky teen, making him perhaps more engaging and relatable for readers who can appreciate youth and the perspective that comes from surviving it. His interest in many things from the 1980s will put some references out of the comfortable range of typical teens, but those who share his love for the decade will enjoy his enthusiasm.
VERDICT A good fit for young adults—and adults—who identify as misfits and can appreciate a character-driven story.

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