Rapino and Grate stir the reader’s emotions from start to finish, taking care to navigate themes of bullying and family dissonance with delicacy. Tommy is a loveable, empathetic young man caught between the whimsical world of childhood and the budding challenges of adolescence. He faces bullies and disintegrating friendships, low self-esteem, and his parents’ distant behavior as they struggle to keep their marriage together. The fantasy elements and introduction of an unexpected ally create a fanciful alternative reality for Tommy to fight his demons both external and internal as he takes on a quest filled with adventure and moments of bravery that shape the person he’s going to be.
This exciting fantasy is filled with fun 8-bit era pop culture references, spot-on comic dialogue perfect for kids, and plenty of thought-provoking morals that will engage readers of all ages. Tommy, his parents, and his friends are well developed characters with layers of depth. This endearing and heart-tugging adventure will capture readers’ attention and stick with them long after the final page.
Takeaway: This heartfelt, ‘80s set YA adventure blends the fantastic with real feeling.
Great for fans of: B.B. Alston’s Amari and the Night Brothers, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends, Esther Ehrlich’s Nest.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A