In this unique YA magical realism novel by Tahlia Newland, teenager Carly Simmons tries to write her own superhero story by standing up for an overweight boy who is being tormented by the school’s resident terror. As all superheroes are apt to do, she earns herself an archenemy in the angry, bullying Justin. But she also finds a boyfriend in smart and sensitive Dylan, karate student and brainy nerd, who admires her for taking a stand.
This fast-paced, short novel combines an extremely original mix of real life difficult situations and magical elements sprung from the imaginations of main characters Carly and Dylan, as they envision ways to overcome everyday challenges, problems and obstacles. I loved the dual perspective of the two main characters and their individual voices as they faced issues all young people struggle with, and their personalities shined through in both their daily lives and relationships and through the inventive analogies constructed by their minds while they worked out their own special roles in the story they choose to make of their lives. The wonderful messages of the novel, about learning compassion, recognizing the suffering in others and combatting hate with love are blended naturally into realistic situations and conversations to offer advice on how to deal with difficult and painful experiences in a positive way, while the sweet, blossoming romance between Carly and Dylan, based on respect and trust, gives a story that deals with the harsh reality of bullying a softer side and underscores its hopeful belief that understanding and concern for others really can make a difference.
It was a honor for me to have been able to read an advance copy of this creative and wonderfully-written story as its copyeditor, and I highly recommend it to both teenagers and adults for fantasy author and high school teacher Tahlia Newland’s interesting and inspiring approach to the issue of bullying – something people of all ages often experience at some point in their lives.
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