In the Key of Dale
For fans of the Netflix series Heartstopper (based on the bestselling graphic novels by Alice Oseman): a disarming coming-of-age novel about a queer teen music prodigy who discovers pieces of himself in places he never thought to look.
Sixteen-year-old Dale Cardigan is a loner who's managed to make himself completely invisible at his all-boys high school. He doesn't fit with his classmates (he gives them funny nicknames in his head), his stepbrother (nobody at school knows they're related), or even his mother (she never quite sees how gifted a musician Dale might be) - but they don't fit with him either. And he's fine with that. To him, high school and home are stages to endure until his real life can finally begin.
After Dale is unable to locate his father's grave at the cemetery, he starts writing letters addressed to his father, initially to tell him everything he can't bring himself to tell his mother and soon as a way to keep track of some unexpected developments. Somewhat against his will, he befriends his classmate Rusty, who gets a rare look at Dale's complex life outside school. Their friendship gets awkward when it seems Dale's growing attraction to Rusty is doomed to remain one-sided, but it's to Rusty that Dale turns when he stumbles upon a family secret.
In the Key of Dale is a beguiling, pitch-perfect book about growing up, fitting in, and finding a way out of grief and loneliness toward the melodic light of adulthood.
Ages 14 and up.
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