Dandelion Travels

­Enslow/West 44 Bks. Oct. 2022. 200p. Tr $25.80. ISBN 9781978596122; pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781978596139.
Gr 9 Up–In this novel in verse, high schooler Eric is carrying a lot. At home he feels like he has a “black cord/ wrapped around my throat.” He skips school one day and catches his dad, a preacher, cheating on his mom. Gay, he has no patience for slurs and now has a reputation as an “angry black man.” Eric has friends, Xavier and Andrea, but he exchanged a kiss at a party with Xavier, who is now dating Andrea, so it’s awkward. When Andrea heads out to her rich uncle’s beach house in California for the summer, Eric decides to defy his parents and go along. There, he has a “saltwater baptism” while swimming in the ocean and meets a cute boy at a party, leading to an intense, but doomed, fling. Through it all, he has a painful reckoning with Xavier and Andrea, goes home and receives the apology from his father that he’s always wanted, and makes peace with his parents’ divorce. The story, written at a second to third grade reading level, covers a lot, and much more is left between the lines. Romance is not described beyond light kissing.
VERDICT An exploration of teen drama that will appeal to a wide range of high school readers.

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