- The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan
Trade ed. ISBN 9780358354758 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780358355458 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4–6
Eleven-year-old Stevie doesn’t understand why her classmate Chloe’s smile sets butterflies dancing in Stevie’s tummy. She also keeps track of Chloe’s weekly nail polish colors, admires her magic tricks, and notices her eyes when she’s never thought about anyone’s eyes before. When it begins to dawn on Stevie that she has her first crush, she worries that there’s something wrong with her. Irish author Grehan offers an encouragingly smooth coming-out story; though Stevie is uncertain of how others will feel about her revelation, her mother, friends, and even other adults in her community support and encourage her on her journey of self-discovery. First-person free verse opens readers to Stevie’s strategy of researching her feelings the way she researches the ocean and other things that frighten her. While other aspects of Stevie’s life, such as her distant father, are alluded to, Grehan keeps the plot focused on Stevie’s first crush and eventual acceptance of her attraction to girls. Filling a needed niche for younger queer and questioning kids, this is a gentle, hopeful read with a kid-friendly romance and a protagonist whom readers will want to befriend.