Girard, M-E

Then Everything Happens at Once

(2) YA A teenage girl's identity crisis coincides with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Girard's (Girl Mans Up, rev. 11/16) latest novel, set on the outskirts of Toronto. Baylee is a thoughtful yet highly self-critical young woman who struggles with body image after years of being bullied about her weight. Her once-strong friend group is filled with tension as romantic pairings emerge or fall apart, while Baylee believes she will never find a significant other. Gradually, she relaxes her defenses and affirms the feelings she has or develops for her best guy friend, a new female friend, and her one-time bully. Her emotional rollercoaster is intensified by caring for her twelve-year-old sister, who has severe cerebral palsy, and by the daily news about people getting sick from COVID-19. She is faced with decisions about exploring newfound romance during lockdown and putting her sister at risk. Baylee and her family, both blood and chosen, model how life's mistakes can be survivable with support from loved ones. Girard's strength as a writer is in giving Baylee voice as an outwardly strong person whose inner thoughts exist in a state of turmoil. The character and story are highly relatable and potentially validating for readers who are figuring out their identities as well as those who could benefit from their own tumultuous teenage experiences--especially during the pandemic--being externally validated.


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