In Utero

Top Shelf. Jan. 2024. 248p. pap. $24.99. ISBN 9781603095341.
Gr 8 Up–When an explosion levels 20 city blocks, the tragedy plays out in unexpected ways. For Hailey, it means ending up in a discount day camp while her mom goes to work, as Hailey is too young to be safely home alone. While helping the teacher round up wandering kids, she meets Jen, who stokes her rebellious fires and shows her something no one else knows about in the partially submerged underground car park. What has been lurking in the shadows and discarded areas of this Australian cityscape? The friendship between Haliey and Jen develops quickly because both are suffering from similar kinds of loneliness: each of their bonds with their mothers are strained and they find a kindred spirit in each other. It can be rare that a dark and haunting science fiction story has such wonderful and emotional characters.
VERDICT Gooch is a powerhouse storyteller, flawlessly joining dread and whimsy in this tale that will delight anyone who has ever wanted to face danger with a friend. In Utero has all the elements of a blockbuster film and will likely fly off shelves.

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