MORRIS, Chad & . 256p. Shadow Mountain. Oct. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781629724850.
Gr 5–7—Sixth grader Flint (aka Squint) is feverishly trying to finish making his comic book in order to enter it in the "Find a Comic Star" contest. Due to a genetic eye disease, keratoconus, he wears thick glasses and has double, sometimes triple or quadruple, vision. Flint, who lives with his grandparents, spends most of his time alone working on his comic book. When McKell, a new girl at school and part of the popular group, sits with him at lunch, he's wary at first, but she seems genuine. She invites him to take a hike after school and talks about her brother Danny's YouTube videos where he posts challenges asking people to push themselves and try new things. After Flint tears his cornea and has surgery, he sees better than he has in years, a cause for celebration until he sees his comic more clearly and realizes that it isn't as good as he thought. He quits drawing, but after Danny dies of heart disease, a consequence of having progeria, a disease where you prematurely age, he works with McKell to fulfill Danny's last challenge, a chance for them both to achieve their dreams. Flint and McKell are sympathetic protagonists with relatable concerns and issues. The challenges of middle school are leavened with humor through the "Middle School Rules" sprinkled throughout the story. The use of the comic book as a metaphor for Flint's experiences would have been more impactful if it had been shown as the actual comic rather than written as text. This small flaw aside, this is a moving story about friendship, loss, and seeing life from other people's point of view.
VERDICT Recommended for any library serving middle grade readers.

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