Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins [in Booklist]
Soneela Nankani instills a just-under-the-surface rage in Kat, a biracial Oakland teen who barely escaped being raped by another student, and whose mother sends her to Boston to finish junior year home-schooled by a family friend’s great-aunt. For Robin Thornton, who’s struggling with his transracial identity as the Indian-born adopted son of a wealthy white Boston couple, Nankani adds something akin to weariness.
The two meet at a church youth group, and are offered the opportunity to go to Kolkata to work with human trafficking survivors; each has other goals beyond the service trip – Kat to empower victims by sharing her Brazilian jujitsu training, Robin (who reclaims his original name, Ravi) to find his birthmother. They’re joined by Gracie – whom Nankani infuses with lightness and wonder – whose softness helps Kat to trust again, and Ravi to connect more deeply.
Mitali Perkins once again alchemizes teenage trials into feats of faith, resilience, and perhaps even a touch of superheroic superpowers.
Review: “Media,” Booklist, July 2019