The Radius of Us

304p. St. Martin's Griffin. Jan. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250096890.
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Gretchen Asher's life has not been the same since she was mugged in a parking lot one night. The traumatic incident propelled her into a state of panic, and she is unable to go to school, socialize, or interact deeply with her boyfriend, Adam. Months later, while babysitting her niece and nephew in a neighborhood park, Gretchen spots a boy who looks nearly identical to her attacker. She is thrust back into the heart of fear, unaware that the boy, Phoenix, is in the midst of his own struggles. An 18-year-old immigrant from El Salvador, he has just spent four months escorting his brother to the United States to flee gang violence and is in danger of being deported. When circumstances cause Gretchen and Phoenix to continue meeting, they form an unexpected bond. While facing court trials, identity issues, and racial stereotyping, the teens bolster each other's courage. With the looming possibility of their permanent separation, the two must decide what is most important to them and what sacrifices are worth making. Tackling the issues of gang violence, immigration, mental health, and cultural bias, this is a compelling story that delivers profound messages through engaging, accessible prose. Both a page-turning romance and a comprehensive view of a young immigrant's experience, this novel is sure to encourage empathy and perspective among high school students.
VERDICT A must-have for all YA collections.

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