Piper is written entirely in a very casual stream-of-consciousness diary style, which did take some getting used to at first, but quickly turned into an absolute delight to read. It reads as exactly the style I like to write ~ no planning, little punctuation and a whole lot of feeling. This format makes it extremely easy to fall into Piper’s world and become invested in her messy family situation and her obsession with art, Andy Warhol, and getting the heck out of Texas and to NYC. The art focus is a joy to find in the YA market, as there just aren’t all that many books to hand to budding artists that this closely speak to the artist’s obsession with creation and design. I can’t wait to share this with my high school students!
One story line that I became especially interested in was Piper’s relationship with her sister, Marli. As you will find in the book, Marli is emotionally volatile and creates much tension for the entire family, as she has her entire life. I connected with this closely as a former special education teacher. In my work with students with emotional behavioral disabilities, many of the families I worked with were at a loss as to how to deal with the emotional turmoil their children exposed their families to. While Marli in this book is not technically labeled with a disorder or disability, the symptoms remain the same. I was heartbroken for both Piper and her parents as they struggled to absorb Marli’s wild mood swings. I was also heartbroken for Marli as she (in my opinion) needed professional help for her struggles. This part of the story was woven in throughout the book, and was probably supposed to be a backdrop for the art focus, but I didn’t read it like that. That’s the joy of books – we can all experience them through our own lens!
I will be purchasing a copy of this book for my high school library and another to check out to our high school art classroom. Cagan’s bio on her website states that she will be releasing another novel with Chronicle in 2018 – I can’t wait!
Official Book Description
Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and into art school in New York City, the better. It’s been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this ridiculously compelling, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?
(I received a digital advance review copy of this title – all opinions are my own)