roundup by Claire Hennessy
Grief, loss, and a sense of “brokenness” suffuse several recent young adult titles, although these thematic similarities still result in very different novels. The most intriguing and innovative of this month’s selection is Kendra Fortmeyer’s Hole in the Middle (Atom, £7.99), in which 17-year-old Morgan has a literal gap in her body that she’s kept hidden for years. When she finally bares the hole in her stomach at a nightclub, she finds herself “more myself than I have ever been”, but this sense of self-worth is soon impinged upon by a social media frenzy.
This in turns to leads to meeting Lump Boy, whose body offers up her missing puzzle piece – but Morgan is suitably sceptical about the idea that this stranger is her “destiny”. The magical realist element allows for a sharp but never preachy take on body image, romance and internet culture, most delightfully when strangers speak up about their own “holes”, having “found an empowering metaphor for their lives” in the narrator. An optimistic ending is hard-won rather than saccharine. With this debut, Fortmeyer establishes herself as a writer to watch.