The Radius of Us
by Marie Marquardt
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2017
Young adult, fiction, romance
Ages: 14 and up, Grades 9-12
Most teen romances are light and full of friendship and warmth; however, The Radius of Us is more gritty than syrupy sweet. This novel shares the story of two youths who are grappling with fear, worry, and challenges that are true-to-life in modern-day America: crime, trauma, immigration issues, and cultural differences.
The main characters are a white American girl named Gretchen and a Salvadoran boy named Phoenix. The two cross paths in an unlikely suburban setting and discover new worlds—each other’s—through their friendship and blossoming affection. They also learn how different doesn’t necessary mean dangerous and how developing empathy for others can be self-empowering.
This is a sobering, yet hopeful novel that will leave readers rooting for the characters to win and for the world around them to wake up and embrace the beauty in change.