Kind of a Big Deal

Roaring Brook. Aug. 2020. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250206237.
Gr 8 Up–Josie has big Broadway dreams. Encouraged by her theater teacher, Josie drops out of high school and moves to New York…where she promptly gets knocked down a peg (or five). Deep in credit card debt and swiftly losing confidence, Josie takes a gig as a nanny. But when nannying turns into a full-time job and requires her to move to Montana, Josie has some real soul searching to do. Unusual townspeople, a weird pair of glasses, and some light reading help Josie escape from her obsessive introspection—literally. Josie finds herself transported inside the stories she reads, acting as the star of various tales, from zombie attacks to bodice rippers to a superhero graphic novel. The stories are populated by the people around her; even Josie’s boyfriend and best friend from home appear in the fantasy spaces, helping Josie process their changing relationships and her fading dreams of stardom. But when fantasy threatens to take over Josie’s reality, Josie must fight to take back control of her life. Even if a little uneven, in typical Hale style, Josie’s story is full of heart, whimsy, and flawed yet lovable characters.
VERDICT Hale’s play with genre, as well as Josie’s absurd internal journey, will appeal to fans of Libba Bray and Andrew Smith who enjoy a light and playful surrealist adventure.

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