SQUINT, by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown, Shadow Mountain, Oct. 2, 2018, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-11)
One of the joys of sharing a talent is the process getting there. Squint, by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown explores how passion for something can sustain a person through great challenges.
Flint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the Find a Comic Star contest. He s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus an eye disease that could eventually make him blind.
McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy named Squint. He seems nice and really talented. He draws awesome pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time?
McKell has a hidden talent of her own but doesn’t share it for fear of being judged. Her terminally ill brother, Danny, challenges McKell to share her love of poetry and songwriting. Flint seems like someone she could trust. Someone who would never laugh at her. Someone who is as good and brave as the superhero in Flint’s comic book named Squint. —Synopsis provided by Shadow Mountain
Flint — nicknamed Squint by the kids at his school — doesn’t have any friends. He used to, back when he could see, but with the onset of genetic eye disease, everyone seemed to slip away. Flint’s become used to it, though, as long as people leave him alone and he can work on his comic, life’s not too bad. When he meets McKell, that all changes. Flint wants to trust her motives. He really does. That’s just not how things usually work out for him.
Squint starts out with Flint crushing on another girl. Circumstances lead to that girl losing her luster. In her place is McKell, who is a genuine friend rather than love interest. The two things that keep Flint and McKell sane are creating comics and creating music. Social nuances push them both to keep their talents hidden. But their growing friendship extends past those barriers.
Squint is the second time Chad Morris and Shelly Brown have paired up. Their first novel, Mustaches for Maddie, was based on the real-life experiences of their own daughter. This time around, the work is all fiction, but it maintains the heart and overall good feel of its predecessor.
Morris and Brown have a comfortable writing style that’s sophisticated enough parents will enjoy but realistic enough that the intended audience will relate. Squint is a fast-paced, easy novel that I read in a little less than three hours.
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