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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > September 2018 > Surviving high school

Surviving high school

In two new dramatic novels, senior year is ruined – thanks to a bear attack in one and leprosy in the other

YA

The Story of My Face

Leanne Baugh

Second Story Press, Ages 13–17

Confessions of a Teenage Leper

Ashley Little

Penguin Teen, Ages 14+

ISSUES AROUND self-image and self-identity have always been a key element in adolescent development, on both individual and social levels. Two new YA books examine these questions through the experiences of high-school seniors. These aren’t merely novels about triumph over adversity; both books cut deeper, exploring questions about the self and one’s role in families, social groups, and larger communities.

The Story of My Face , from Victoria’s Leanne Baugh, begins with Abby reluctantly boarding a bus. It’s an icy day in March, and Abby is returning to school after months of hospitalization and rehabilitation – including multiple plastic surgeries – following a bear attack, which she barely survived. Her face is badly scarred, a physical representation of the wounds separating her past from her present. It’s not just that her friends have turned against her, or that her one-time boyfriend, Liam – who also survived the attack – can’t seem to even look at her. Or that the local bully, Mason, sensing weakness, begins a campaign of harassment and violence against her. The scars of the attack have had a profound impact on Abby’s inner life as well. Her dreams have collapsed into what she perceives to be her new reality, and her confidence has been extinguished. Even the outdoors, which used to offer her a beloved refuge, seems lost to her.

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