Saving Sunshine

First Second. Sept. 2023. 224p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781250793805.
Gr 4-7–Muslim twins Zeeshan and Zara’s mother is recognized as pediatrician of the year, and the Aziz family must travel from New York to a conference in Key West. Along the way, the twins face microaggressions and discrimination from others, while battling an inability to get along with each other due to diverging interests and perceived slights. When their bickering leads to lost phone privileges and they need find entertainment in each other’s company, Zeeshan and Zara aren’t sure they’re going to survive the trip. But a chance discovery of Sunshine, a sick loggerhead turtle stranded on the beach, presents the twins with an opportunity to put their differences aside in order to nurse it back to health. Sunshine’s story quietly takes a backseat to the twins’ still-evolving relationship. Despite multiple conflicts being present, the tension never comes to a head as they are quickly resolved, while character growth feels believable though perhaps rushed. Although discrimination at the hands of airport personnel is recognized as harmful, microaggressions are largely dismissed, as the twins are urged to avoid anger. The stunning artwork is dominated by soft sea-inspired watercolor blues and greens in the present, while flashbacks are signaled with sepia. A smattering of animal and space facts, representing the interests of the twins, respectively, are shared via fact boxes meant to appear as social media posts.
VERDICT A fine addition for collections seeking representation of discordant sibling relationships.

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