Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Long Distance by Whitney Gardner!


by Whitney Gardner
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Science Fiction / Graphic
320 pages 

From the creator of Fake Blood comes another exceptionally charming middle grade graphic novel about friendships both near and far, far away.

Vega’s summer vacation is not going well.

When her parents decide it’s time to pack up and leave her hometown of Portland, Oregon, behind for boring Seattle, Washington, Vega is more than upset—she’s downright miserable. Forced to leave her one and only best friend, Halley, behind, Vega is convinced she’ll never make another friend again.

To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what’s going on!



Learning all about friendship and meeting new ones takes a quirky and out of the world path.

Vega isn't exactly thrilled that her parents have moved to Seattle for work, and she's left her best friend, Halley, behind. Not only will she miss her but making friends is never easy. It's basically impossible. To help her smooth into things, her family sends her off to camp. Here, things seem to get worse. Her phone dies, Halley appears to have met new friends now that Vega's gone, the camp counselors are weirder than weird, and things just get stranger from there. 

Friendship, finding new ones, and trusting old are key themes in these pages, but instead of taking a boring, ordinary, contemporary twist, this book heads in a slightly unexpected direction. The author lets the reader get to know Vega and her family a bit before sending her off to camp. She comes across as a very normal girl, and it's not hard to understand her fears and doubts. Her problems with finding friends or trusting herself to meet people is something many readers will sympathize with, too.

It's been awhile since I've read a middle grade book, which hits upon the summer camp theme. This one adds a fresh layer as it takes a really quirky twist...and this definitely gave it an original and fun direction. The science fiction direction is odd but works wonderfully. It's easy to read, moves a long at a steady pace, and takes turns a reader wouldn't expect. And that all in a easy-to-read, graphic novel form.

And here she is...

Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and cartoonist living by the Salish Sea with her husband and two pugs. She started drawing stick figures in second grade and somehow no one's been able to stop her. If there’s ever a moment when she isn’t drawing she’s likely to be found baking, tending to her many houseplants, or rolling twenty-sided dice. Her favorite color is, and always will be, yellow. She is the author of the YA novels You’re Welcome, Universe and Chaotic Good, as well as the creator of Fake Blood and Long Distance and the illustrator for Debbie Levy’s Becoming RBG.

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