- The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-246777-5 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-246779-9 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8–10
Mercedes is feeling stuck. Her mother is away in Puerto Rico tending to Mercedes’ dying grandmother, she’s got artist’s block after winning an award for her painting, she can’t tell her friend that she’s actually in love with her, and she’s not terrific at taking care of her younger sister, who really needs Mercedes right now. When seemingly magical things start happening (such as a piano appearing out of nowhere on the front lawn), Mercedes seizes on them as a way to pull herself out of her slump, finding solace and inspiration in a weird old building known as the Red Mango Estate. Art is a key topic throughout, with Mercedes’ crush a dancer and her sister a gifted pianist, and while Mercedes does become unstuck, it’s not always in the direction she wanted. However, Mercedes is not only taking magic where it comes but also slowly realizing that paths don’t have to be chosen to be meaningful, and that acceptance of life’s sorrows can take you good places. Francesca Lia Block fans will be right at home with this mix of magical realism, girl power self-actualization, and the concept that family can be both biological and found, and they’ll likely keep an eye out to see what this debut author will do next.