JAKE IN A BOX
Young Adult, Putnam (Penguin), 2020
JAKE IN A BOX is a psychological suspense novel with elements of horror, in which a teen, the only black kid at his prep school, is haunted by the ghost of a school shooter. The ghost is determined to get Jake to help him finish what he started. An “ownvoices” novel set in Georgia, the books also tackles issues of race, depression, and sexual identity.
It’s hard being the only black kid at a conservative prep school, especially when you’re routinely harassed by the dead. This year, sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston plans to make real friends, not dead ones, which won’t happen if he keeps retreating to a world no one else can see.
When Jake meets Sawyer Doon, he thinks he’s found a new friend. Except Sawyer isn’t real – he’s a spirit that’s too vengeful for Jake to ignore. Six years before, Sawyer carried out a school shooting and killed himself before finishing the job. His targets are still out there, and he’s determined to possess Jake and finish what he started.
The more Jake ignores Sawyer, the more he feels the ghost boy’s impact on his psyche. Nightmares of Sawyer’s abusive childhood haunt him in his sleep. When awake, Jake lashes out at his teachers and his crush Fiona Chan, who is turning into more than just a crush, for reasons he can’t explain. And he starts to question everything, including his sexual identity.
The closer Jake’s comes to understanding who Sawyer was, the more he realizes how similar he is to Sawyer – a boy once bullied relentlessly for his sexuality, now hell-bent on taking power from a world that always took it from him.
To protect himself from possession, Jake will have to find his voice in a school where he feels he has none, and discover his own reasons to stay on this side of the Divide.
USA: Putnam (Penguin)