SHOW US WHO YOU ARE by Elle McNicoll
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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Cora didn’t want to go to her older brother’s boss’s son’s birthday party. For one thing, she doesn’t know these people, and for another thing, parties are always awkward for Cora who struggles with small talk and sensory and emotional overwhelm in some social situations. But when she meets Adrien, her night becomes anything but awkward. Adrien is her age and they understand each other better than Cora and her classmates, maybe in part because they are both neurodivergent. The one thing they don’t see eye to eye on is Adrien’s father’s company, Pomegranate, which she learns studies living people to create accurate, holographic representations of them so that when they die, their loved ones can still interact with them. Cora would give anything to have another conversation with her late mother, even a simulated one, but Adrien insists that it wouldn’t be real and that the company is preying on grieving people’s emotions–and their wallets.
When tragedy strikes, Cora can no longer resist the lure of being interviewed by Pomegranate, not when they could offer her a chance to talk with a loved one she’s lost. But Adrien was right: Pomegranate has ulterior motives, and Cora may be the only one capable of unraveling the mystery and stopping them from turning society down a sinister road.
Grief and disability acceptance take a front row seat in McNicoll’s compelling foray into middle grade suspense. McNicoll demonstrates Cora and Adrien’s unique strengths without shying away from their weaknesses, some of them linked to her particular collection of neurodivergent traits, and in doing so provides readers with positive, realistic neurodivergent heroes–a boon for neurodivergent readers looking to find positive reflections of themselves in the books they read and non-neurodivergent readers who need opportunities to better understand people of all neurotypes. On top of the wonderful neurodiverse representation, McNicoll delivers a thrilling borderline dystopian plot that becomes difficult to put down in the second half. I’d recommend this one to fans of middle grade contemporary and/or middle grade thrillers.
If you liked SHOW US WHO YOU ARE, you might like TREX by Christyne Morrell