As You Walk on By

Viking. Jan. 2023. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593206508.
Gr 7 Up–Friday dares have been going strong for Theo and his two besties, Jay and Darren, since their freshman year. The latest dare: Theo, now a junior, has to ask his crush Christian to prom. After a failed first attempt, Theo gets a second chance at a party. Things go awry yet again. Surprisingly, Theo finds himself having a heart-to-heart with an unlikely bunch of classmates, including his ex-bestie Aleah. As the conversation flows, Theo learns a lot about what it means to be a true friend—and about himself. Winter skillfully puts Black and brown adolescence under a microscope to uncover insightful expectations about masculinity, sexuality, and gender. The tight plot is mostly focused on the party, allowing for some genuine bonding moments for the fully realized (and infectiously fun) characters.
VERDICT Equal parts feel-good and radical honesty, this first purchase will easily appeal to fans of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli.

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