Chad Mor­ris, Shelly Brown, Shadow Moun­tain Pub­lish­ing (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $16.99 (256pp) 978-1-62972-485-0

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews | Juvenile Fiction - SU­SAN WAGGONER

Chad Mor­ris and Shelly Brown’s Squint pulls off the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble: it is an em­pa­thy-build­ing novel with a mes­sage that’s fun to read.

Thir­teen-year-old Flint lives with his grand­par­ents and wears spe­cial glasses that don’t en­tirely cor­rect his lim­ited vi­sion. Cool­ness is out of the ques­tion; he is in­evitably nick­named Squint.

Flint is also an as­pir­ing comic book artist hoping to en­ter an im­por­tant competition. When Mck­ell, a girl who usu­ally hangs out with a cooler crowd, sits down be­side him and strikes up a con­ver­sa­tion, his life be­gins to change.

Flint is a sharply ob­ser­vant nar­ra­tor. He is self-dep­re­cat­ingly hu­mor­ous rather than self-pity­ing, and he eas­ily em­bod­ies the se­cret freak­ish­ness that many teens feel. He dis­cov­ers that seem­ingly per­fect Mck­ell has prob­lems of her own, too: her fa­ther works a lot, her mother is de­pressed, and her brother Danny has proge­ria, an ex­tremely rare disease that he copes with by main­tain­ing a web­site that fo­cuses on the pos­i­tive.

De­spite the book’s dual med­i­cal is­sues, this is not a “sick kid” book. Flint is fa­mil­iar, only with a dif­fer­ent set of prob­lems than most, and while Danny’s story line is more se­ri­ous, it sends a strong mes­sage about mak­ing the most of what you have. The writ­ing is per­fectly tuned, trust­ing its au­di­ence enough not to ham­mer at its main themes. One of the book’s most mem­o­rable fea­tures is Flint’s comic book–in–progress, whose story sub­tly re­flects what’s go­ing on in Flint’s life and whose art, which is in­trigu­ingly de­scribed, is fun to imag­ine.

With its so­phis­ti­cated themes and thor­oughly lik­able main char­ac­ter, Squint takes on a lot and de­liv­ers be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions.

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