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Klee’s life is slowly coming undone, ripping at the seams. With his father’s death and his relationship with his mom on edge, not to mention the pressures of being a teenager, everything seems too much, leading to Klee’s temporary placement at an institution known as “the Ape Can.” Gae Polisner’s second novel brings to light the tragedy found in life, the beauty of art, and how the past convolutes the present.

In Sight of Stars begins with Klee, who recently lost his father and is struggling to function. Not only does he have a messy relationship with his mom, but he is haunted by the scattered memories he has of the mysterious Sarah, a girl from his past. Trying to move forward and adapting to his new environment, Klee comes in contact with a striking number of colorful characters who each have their own advice and insight into his recent tragedy. While the future is uncertain and frightening, the past is something that Klee cannot let go of, something that permeates his thoughts. Within the darkness, Klee struggles to find hope in the hopeless and to see his own part to play in the single event that lit a spark to ignite his downward fall towards deeper anxiety and depression. But more importantly, Klee soon discovers the healing touch of art and the mysteries that lie in plain sight, even in the people you think you know the best.

Gae Polisner’s latest release is nothing short of extraordinary. As I like to say, this book is the lovechild of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. From start to finish, In Sight of Stars is compelling and real. Polisner pushes hard to keep her material authentic, even touching on aspects that seem messy or intense for teen audiences. While there are many YA books that tackle mental illness, I believe this to be one of the very best. As someone who understands the struggles of anxiety, Klee’s story touched me and brought me to tears on so many occasions. This book is challenging, gripping, and simply human. I love it for these very reasons.

Not only does Polisner present a story that is important and hopeful for struggling teens, but her writing is challenging in the best way popular. Often times I feel as if YA fiction is dumbed down for teen audiences, but Polisner lets readers enter the minds of her characters; when Klee is confused, you are too. This writing technique is brilliant and gives teens a chance to learn and be challenged in a more unique way than I have ever experienced in the YA genre.

Klee is at his breaking point. The life he once knew is shattered at his feet, and there is no going back to glue all the pieces back together. In Sight of Stars is one of the most compelling and important books on the shelves today, giving teens an outlet to feel heard and understood. Gae Polisner delivers in every way and continues to tell important and moving stories about teens, the confusing and complicated aspects included. Pick up your copy of In Sight of Stars, and follow Klee as he begins on his road to recovery and confronts the past as well as the present.

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