I think the best YA is simply lovely, while grappling with some of the heavier topics in today's world. And The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith is masterful in accomplishing both of these objectives. From the start, the reader is invested in Leila and her struggle to allow herself to belong somewhere. As she begins to discover just how connected she is to the rest of the world, we also see just how nuanced her character is. Racism, non-traditional families, adoption, depression, environmental activism, Smith weaves really weighty topics through this book in a way that still manages to maintain an enjoyable reading experience. Use of fabulism lends the book a grounded yet delightful sense of magic.
Teenager Leila's life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she's never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend, Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve. But the voices in Leila's head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn't working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park. Is she ready to answer?
Disclaimer: While the author sent this book to me in return for an honest review, my thoughts on the material are entirely my own.