No Filter

Scholastic. Feb. 2024. 272p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781338893168.
Gr 5 Up–Twelve-year-old Janessa “Jinx” McCormick is something of a local celebrity in her hometown of Greenbelt, MD, not only for her photography talents that help her to feel in control of her life, but also because she is the daughter of a rock star. After her father’s unexpected death, Jinx continues to lean into her art, getting paid in food and other services by the people of the town who know that her aunt is struggling to adapt to caring for a child. As Jinx navigates complicated emotions around her father’s death, she begins to notice a flaw in her photography. A black mark begins to appear in nearly every photo, and, despite her efforts to fix the camera, the mark keeps getting bigger—and it looks human. Skovron expertly navigates child-adult conversations, conveying how even an emotionally mature child will understand life lessons differently than the adults around them. The book builds suspense for the big reveal of the mark’s true nature, but ultimately falls flat with an ending that feels rushed and wrapped up too neatly considering the severity of the protagonist’s mental health episode in the conclusion. Characters are diverse; topics of suicide, OCD, and grief are handled with care. Resources for child abuse and suicide hotlines are provided at the end.
VERDICT Consider this as an additional purchase where suspenseful books are popular, and hand to students who may benefit from protagonists handling difficult life situations.

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