HarperTeen. Jul. 2022. 208p. ed. by KAYE, Marcy & Joshua Sinel, eds. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063057937.
Gr 8 Up–Written by young adults for young adults, this illustrated collection of personal stories from digital platform Storybooth reads like a candid, intimate anthology about a wide range of difficult, emotionally charged experiences and realities. As the unnamed authors reveal moments of their past or present, their true accounts carry heavy emotional weight as the creators identify and express their emotions and, sometimes, their hard-won lessons about embarrassing school scenarios, being bullied, racism, homophobia, insecurities, peer pressure, eating disorders, loss, self-harm, relationship dynamics, social media stresses, and more. While readers will often find neither resolutions at the stories’ ends nor advice concerning how to deal with these struggles, the book’s purpose is clear: readers can see they are not alone, as other teens offer plain proof that they feel or have felt the same. With short topic phrases marking the start of each new voice, the teens’ anonymous accounts vary in length, ranging from a few sentences to several pages; each story includes poignant artwork or graphic novel–like compositions that reveal both inner turmoil and outward emotions through SanAngelo’s sharp colors, bold lines, and stylized representations of people. Since the stories are arranged in no particular order, readers may find it difficult to immediately access specific stories pertaining to their own circumstances. The book includes a valuable resource page listing hotlines and organizations that can offer help and support.
VERDICT Centered on difficult, emotional struggles and experiences, this collection of young adults’ personal truths offers readers an intimate means of connection and realization that they are not alone.

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