This week's theme is "coming of age," and we're pairing it with escapism. We Were Promised Spotlights by Lindsay Sproul is the story of a perfectly beautiful, perfectly docile, perfectly boring star of Hopuonk, Massachusetts. Taylor Garland is homecoming queen, fated to marry a football player, have his babies, and waste away in the same small town she was born in until she dies. But Taylor hates Hopuonk. Taylor hates pretending to be vapid and happy. And Taylor hates not being honest about the feelings she has for her best friend, Susan. So Taylor decides to get out before it's too late.
On the weirder end of the spectrum, Katrina Leno's You Must Not Miss builds its own magical, terrible escape. Magpie's life fell apart when her father ruined everything, her sister skipped town, and her mother started drinking again. Now Magpie's got nothing, except for the world she writes about in her yellow notebook, a world named Near. Magpie imagines Near so fully, so lovingly, that she writes it into existence. At first, Near is a pleasant escape, a version of the world where nothing went wrong and everything is still perfect and on track, but things quickly get dark as the world twists itself into a nightmare. But Magpie sees the potential in Near, and knows she can use the world to get anything she wants, including her revenge.
With themes of escapism, agency, and young women's anger, We Were Promised Spotlights and You Must Not Miss are revamped takes on the coming of age subgenre perfect for the angry kids, the trapped kids, the kids who need to know that there's something on the other side of what they know, and it's all theirs if they want it.