“Magoon, winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent (The Rock and the River, 2010), has crafted a fresh look at the complexities that can arise in the friendships of teens. Ellis’ first-person expression of her pain and confusion is especially well done….Another powerful outing from a rising star.”
Ellis only has four days of her sophomore year left, and summer is so close that she can almost taste it. But even with vacation just within reach, Ellis isn’t exactly relaxed. Her father has been in a coma for years, the result of a construction accident, and her already-fragile relationship with her mother is strained over whether or not to remove him from life support. Her best friend fails even to notice that anything is wrong and Ellis feels like her world is falling apart. But when all seems bleak, Ellis finds comfort in the most unexpected places. Life goes on, but in those four fleeting days friends are lost and found, promises are made, and Ellis realizes that nothing will ever quite be the same.
“Thirty-seven first-person chapters give the reader a front-row seat to the challenges high school sophomore Ellis faces. From the first pages, we know the situation is tough: Ellis’s adored father has been in a coma for two years; Mom wants to turn off the machines keeping her husband alive, and Ellis, who visits her father at the nursing home often, disagrees. What elevates this story from an Afterschool Special is that Ellis’s words, carefully written, presumably in a journal, reveal the typical world of a teenager and the complicated world of high school friendships. ….There is much to this slim book—coming of age, death, hope, love—and Ellis is a character to care about and cheer on for a long, long time.”
“Magoon (Camo Girl) gently but unflinchingly explores difficult adolescent territory in this intelligent, affecting novel. …[T]he book traces 15-year-old Ellis’s complex emotional journey as she confronts the inevitable death of her comatose father,…navigates volatile friendship dramas, explores her sexual identity, and struggles with her evolving relationship with her mother.Deftly developed characters (including well-drawn minor ones) and highly credible relationships—especially the loving yet testy push-and-pull (“a flawed and fragile thing,” notes Ellis) between Ellis and her mother—ground the book. Magoon persuasively depicts the high school social scene and Ellis’s simultaneously secure and awkward role in it; her memories of her father are particularly well rendered with a love that avoids lapsing into sentimentality. Both perceptive and perplexed,…Ellis tells her story in a singular voice that captures and holds readers’ interest and empathy.”