LaCour, Nina. Watch Over Me. Fiction. Dutton, 09/2020. 240pp. $17.99. 978-0-593-10897-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 8-12.
LaCour follows up Printz-winning We Are Okay (2017) with this exquisitely lovely magical realist novel. Mila has been in foster care since she was 14 and has now aged out. She moves to a remote farm in Mendocino County where Terry and Julia provide a home and a refuge for many children and young adults like Mila (Mila is white, and the other characters have a range of skin colors). But the farm is haunted, and Mila is haunted by her past and as physical reminders of what happened when she was younger keep appearing, she doesn’t know if she is going to be able to stay. The author wondrously captures Mila’s simultaneous dread of being found out along with her urge to tell her new family what she has done so that they, and she, can truly understand and accept her for herself. Mila’s relationship with the boy she teaches, Lee, is delicately drawn as she tentatively makes her way towards helping him deal with his monstrous past, and her growing friendship with the other young adults, Liz and Billy, feels very authentic in its peaks and valleys. As Mila deals with her grief and guilt, the warm support of her new family cushions her and guides her towards a safe landing place. A jewel. Includes California-specific content. Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco University High School