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"An honest, sophisticated look at the myriad emotions surrounding chronic illness and growing up 'not straight' in a religious Georgia town." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Relatable, real, and utterly engrossing." —School Library Journal (starred review)
After dedicated soccer player Will is sidelined from the season—and his friend group—due to complications from his newly diagnosed Crohn’s disease, he finds himself figuring out who he really is on the inside in this heartfelt and thoughtful middle grade novel that's perfect for readers who love books by Maulik Pancholy and Christine Day.
Will loves playing center midfield on his middle school soccer team. This year, though, Will hasn't felt like himself; his stomach has been bothering him, and he has no energy at all. When his new doctor diagnoses him with Crohn's disease, Will hopes that means he’ll start feeling better soon and he can get back to playing with his team before the season ends.
But Will's new medicines come with all kinds of side effects, Forced to sit out afternoon practice, Will finds himself hanging out with a kid at school, Griffin. This could be a real problem, seeing as Griffin just asked Will’s best friend to the spring dance. As in, guy friend. What would Will’s teammates say if they knew the whole story? Not to mention Will’s friends at church.
With all these changes happening faster than he can process them, Will knows that he has a lot to figure out about who he really is on the inside.
Andrew Eliopulos's novel is a memorable, affecting story that will have wide appeal. It was selected as a Junior Library Guild title and named one of "6 LGBTQ+ Kids' Books We Need More Than Ever" by Kirkus Reviews.
Andrew Eliopulos is a children’s book writer and editor. Originally from Georgia, Andrew graduated from the University of Chicago and now lives with his husband in Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, The Spider Ring, was a CBC Children’s Choices Reading List Pick and a Grand Canyon Reader Award nominee. Andrew may or may not believe in magic. www.andreweliopulos.com
"Based on lived experience, Eliopulos (The Fascinators) presents an honest, sophisticated look at the myriad emotions surrounding chronic illness and growing up “not straight” in a religious Georgia town. Eliopulos forges a hopeful tone through conversational first-person narration, multifaceted friendships, and a familial church community striving toward inclusivity, even as the narrative confronts the psychological impact of homophobia and religious trauma on queer youth." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Relatable, real, and utterly engrossing, Eliopulos’s writing will have readers hooked from the get-go. Life in a middle school, a new disease diagnosis, and sexual identity are the common themes of this coming-of-age novel. A first purchase for all libraries where unforgettable reads are sought." — School Library Journal (starred review)
"Character-driven with a much-conflicted narrator, this brings a conversational tone and a gentle approach to difficult topics while still clearly depicting the conflict of Will’s frustration and discomfort. Readers will appreciate the variety of perspectives from the people in Will’s life and the empathetic narrator at the helm; the reality the story reflects will reach a broad swath of readers, from jocks to gaming nerds to those exploring religion." — Booklist
"The story takes an intersectional approach that avoids the perils of making Will’s disease and queerness lessons; his identities blend into each other in organic ways. But what is captured here most compellingly are the struggles of developing a chronic illness at a young age, borne from Eliopulos’ own experiences: the gulf between friends before and after diagnosis, well-meaning concern that becomes patronization, and rarely described specific frustrations of navigating a healthy world as a sick kid. As Will’s reality changes, he remains—and becomes—fully himself. Warm and nuanced." — Kirkus Reviews