The Real Riley Mayes

Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins/. May 2022. 224p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780062995742; Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780062995759.
Gr 4-8–In this delightful story, fifth grader Riley Mayes is trying to find her place. Her friend has moved away, and she is bouncing around from group to group trying to find friends who understand her. Her teacher certainly doesn’t; Riley’s class interruptions and constant doodling land her in trouble on a regular basis. When the class is assigned to write a letter to a well-known person, Riley chooses to write to Joy Powers, a comedian she admires, but she gets stuck on what to write and how to say it. In the meantime, the new kid in her class, Aaron, seems okay, and classmate Cate begins to befriend Riley. Things are looking up until the other kids start harassing Riley and calling her “lesbian.” Would that be so bad? How does a person know they’re gay? Riley is filled with questions. Though confused, she has a tremendous support team in her parents, her older brother Danny, and her newfound friends. Through many ups and downs, Riley begins to find her footing and, most importantly, recognize that she has plenty of people to go to. This realistic and heartwarming story, filled with humor and angst, has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Readers will readily empathize with Riley.
VERDICT The simple and endearing artwork with soft colors will fly off library shelves and be a hit for readers who enjoy Raina Telgemeier’s books and Jennifer Holm’s “Sunny” series.

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