Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Flint once liked school and was popular, but that changed when he developed an eye disease that made him lose most of his sight and all his friends. Luckily, Flint has found purpose in creating a comic book about his superhero, Squint. One day at lunch, a girl named McKell sits by Flint and asks him to complete some random challenges with her. Intrigued, Flint helps McKell, and the two start becoming friends. McKell has an older brother, Danny, who has a rare chronic disease. To keep his spirits high, Danny issues kindness challenges to his YouTube followers. Right after McKell begins to fulfill some of Danny’s challenges, Danny passes away. In her grief, McKell withdraws. Inspired by Danny, Flint motivates McKell to finish her final challenge on the stipulation that he submits his comic book for a contest, even though he doubts his artistic ability. Both accomplish their challenges and become closer friends.
There are two unique ways Morris and Brown have set their story apart. First is that throughout the book, Flint shares his life’s lessons by listing humorous yet insightful rules for surviving middle school, understanding relationships, and crafting comic books. Additionally, chapters jump from Flint’s real-life challenges to the conflicts the superhero, Squint, faces. At the beginning of the book, Flint retreats from his own trials. He tackles them by turning them into supervillains and having Squint fight out a resolution. When McKell enters Flint’s life, Squint’s comic book story changes by including a sidekick, Diamond. Diamond watches Squint’s back and gives him a clearer perspective to the people he once viewed as villains. As Flint grows in confidence and strength, so does Squint. Any fans of comic books and contemporary fiction will enjoy this heartfelt and insightful middle-grade read.