Out of Character

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Feb. 2023. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063243323.
Gr 9 Up–High school senior Cass is living a double life. Online she’s Aresha from the “Tide Wars” book series, role-playing on Discord with friends from across the country. Offline she’s struggling with the stress of homework, college applications, and her mother’s unexpected departure from Minneapolis to Maine to live with a new boyfriend. Even dating Taylor, her longtime crush, is proving complicated; when Taylor professes her love for Cass, Cass finds she’s unable to reciprocate Taylor’s strong feelings. But when Cass meets her role-playing friend Rowan in person, sparks fly, and Cass must decide how long she can keep her online life a secret from the people she cares about. Cass, Rowan, and Taylor are cued white; Cass’s best friend Tate is Black. Miller realistically explores Cass’s confusion and pain over her mother’s departure, and how her avoidance of these emotions leads her to become consumed by the escapism of role-playing. Chapters close with excerpts from the “Tide Wars” fanfiction chats, providing a glimpse into Cass’s passion for the books.
VERDICT A sweet but slow moving queer romance that celebrates fandoms and explores the complications of balancing online and offline relationships.

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