Saturday, December 29, 2018

Empowering MG Novel Urges All to See Each Other More Clearly

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When you're in junior high, nothing draws in the bullies quite like being different.  Flint would know.  With a debilitating eye disease called keratoconus, he has to work harder than most just to see normally.  Calling him "Squint," his middle school tormentors love to mock him at every turn, making his lonely existence even more difficult.  Flint tries his best to ignore the taunts, focusing instead on the epic superhero comic book he's writing and illustrating.  His goal is to submit it to a "Find a New Comic Star" contest before his eyelids thin enough to blind him completely.  When he wins, Flint will finally receive the respect and friendship he craves.

Flint, who always sits alone at lunch, can't quite believe it when the cool new girl sits next to him in the cafeteria.  Even though she's been accepted by the popular crowd, McKell Panganiban seems genuinely nice.  The more Flint gets to know her, the more he realizes that, like him, McKell has some amazing hidden talents she's reluctant to share.  As the two begin to trust each other with their secret skills, they make some amazing discoveries about each other and about themselves.  When a dynamic YouTube star urges them to make the most of the time they've been given, Flint and McKell realize their new friendship might just give them the courage they need to finally do the things that scare them most.

I greatly enjoyed Mustaches for Maddie, last year's heartwarming MG novel by husband/wife duo Chad Morris and Shelly Brown, so I was excited to read their newest offering, Squint.  Like its predecessor, Squint is a warm, uplifting story that encourages empathy, compassion, and accepting others despite their differences.  Although it deals with tough subjects, Squint remains positive without ever feeling cheesy or overly sentimental.  Instead, it's a funny, engaging story that both entertains and empowers.  In the same vein as Wonder, it's a book that reminds us to look more closely at each other—and ourselves—to find the hidden beauty inside us all. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Wonder by R.J. Palacio and other MG novels about learning to accept others despite their disabilities/differences)

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To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Squint from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

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