Review and photo by Kate Olson ~ @theloudlibrarylady on Instagram
Thanks to the publisher and author for the review copy of this book ~ all opinions are my own.
In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner
(Wednesday Books ~ March 13, 2018)
Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.
Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.
While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Starsis a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.
So, so many young adult books are featuring themes of mental illness now that I start thinking I know what to expect in the genre………but then THIS book comes along and shows me how it should be done. Polisner has written a quiet and poignant look into a teen’s experiences with grief, depression and desperation, and has managed to do so with the most compassionate touch I have seen. Her portrayal of mental health professionals, therapy and in-patient treatment are refreshingly positive and I am hoping they will undo the damage that many insensitive books have done for this topic. And the ART. I adore that this book is so wrapped around art and Van Gogh and Klee and his father’s art. This isn’t done enough in YA, which is why I’m so happy to see it here. If you have teen art lovers in your life, hand them this book. (Along with Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan – that 2017 title is fabulous too!)
Highly recommended for libraries that serve teens, and perhaps in art classrooms as well ~ because every classroom needs books!
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