BEND, OR—Poised to shake up the genre with its daring choice of protagonist, a groundbreaking young adult novel released this week by author Joan Berman reportedly makes the bold choice of following a moody, independently minded high school student who could be described as something of a loner. “Rather than focusing on a popular member of the in-crowd, Happy Nowhere challenges readers’ expectations by telling the outcast’s story,” said book critic Anna Meier, noting that the work’s convention-defying heroine, 16-year-old Shelby Sartell, doesn’t particularly fit in with her classmates, sometimes gets teased and bullied, and even has a rather unusual family life. “With this novel, Berman breaks the mold, giving voice to a young woman who isn’t exactly part of the mainstream—someone you might say marches to the beat of her own drum. It’s an audacious choice, but somehow, you actually find yourself rooting for the kid. I think we’ll be surprised by how well teens respond to this trailblazing literary direction.” Meier added that in a fresh twist on the straightforward two-person relationships seen in most young adult novels, Happy Nowhere involves a more complicated love triangle.
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