The wealth of paranormal YA books keeps growing. Angels, mermaids, werewolves, dragons and vampires are all great for escapism. But readers live in the real world, where it’s not Twilight and there are no Mortal Instruments. Contemporary realistic YA fiction is girding its loins and tackling issues important to today’s teens head-on, from self-esteem to sexting, predators, eating disorders, and feeling like an outsider.
Sasquatch in the Paint, published 2013 by Disney-Hyperion, may be loosely based on author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s experiences growing up, but it is definitely not just another basketball book. This story for both middle grade and young adult readers is about Theo, an 8th grader who grew six inches over the summer and is now taller than all his friends and many of his teachers. He has been recruited by the basketball coach even though he has never played before. The coach expects him to help the team win its first game in years.
Theo is also a member of the school’s Science Club and preparing to help them win the “Aca-lympics,” a science trivia contest. He can’t split himself and do both. That leaves him forced to make a choice, one hampered by an unspoken fear: that he’s just not good enough for either role.
Here he was. Panicky. Gawky. His throat so dry it scratched when he swallowed.
If that’s not enough, his cousin, a musical genius with his own self-esteem issues, accuses him of stealing one of his songs. He needs to convince more than the mysterious girl called Rain that he is not a “Sasquatch.” He needs to prove it to himself.