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YA Review: A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong

Title: A Map to the Sun

AuthorSloane Leong

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (graphic novel, sports)
Pages: 368
Rating: 3.5 to 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (CA)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): A Map to the Sun is a gripping YA graphic novel about five principle players in a struggling girls' basketball team.

One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.

Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She's dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women's basketball team at their high school.

With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.

Sloane Leong’s evocative storytelling about the lives of these young women is an ode to the dynamic nature of friendship. 

Review: I am doing so much better about reading graphic novels this year and I am glad as I think the medium is a wonderful way to evoke emotion through words and illustrations. The illustrations in this graphic novel are an amazing example of that. Color is used in the background to denote danger, fear, frustration, happiness, and more. Though both of these examples have shades of pink the author used blues, greens, red, black and more.

This story is about a girls' basketball team (and how they deal with sexism at their school from other coaches and players), but it's really about much more. Family dysfunction, the difficulties and benefits of friendship and how to build relationships feature in a large way. The five main characters try to find a balance between looking out for one another, figuring themselves out, and how to become one unit to find success.

While the premise and artwork are all wonderful, something didn't "wow" me and I'm not sure why. Was I not in the right mood? Did I need to give it more than one sitting? If I find that I think about this book more over the next couple of weeks, I'll come back and bump it up to a higher than 3.5 or 4 rating. Have you read this book? What did you think?

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Diversity--Native American, Black, Latinx, and Asian characters

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