You Only Live Once, David Bravo

HarperCollins. Sept. 2022. 384p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063008151.
Gr 4-7–After a disastrous start to middle school, a talking dog offers David Bravo the chance to go back in time to fix the moment where it all went wrong—if only David could pinpoint where that moment was. Was it the school assignment about his culture and where he comes from? Or an unfortunate food poisoning incident that ruins his best friend’s chance at making varsity cross-country? David keeps reliving certain moments up and down his time line, but instead of fixing things, he just keeps making them worse. Along the way, David must confront his feelings about his identity as a transracial adoptee (his mom is Japanese American and his dad is Mexican-Brazilian-American, his biological parents were Latinx, but the adoption was closed) and the true nature of his feelings for his best friend Antoine. Through his discussions with Fea, his “non-corporeal time line guide” (who, in addition to appearing as a dog, also shows up as a mosquito, giraffe, and several other animals to great comedic effect) and her backstory, he learns that sometimes it’s not past decisions, but future ones that matter most.
VERDICT A funny and unexpected twist on the time loop novel with moving and memorable results.

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