Mid Air

Mid Air
Age Range
Release Date
April 23, 2024
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It’s the last few months of eighth grade, and Isaiah feels lost. He thought his summer was going to be him and his boys Drew and Darius, hanging out, doing wheelies, watching martial arts movies, and breaking tons of Guiness World Records before high school. But now, more and more, Drew seems to be fading from their friendship, and though he won’t admit it, Isaiah knows exactly why. Because Darius is…gone.

A hit and run killed Darius in the midst of a record-breaking long wheelie when Isaiah should have been keeping watch, ready to warn: “CAR!” Now, Drew can barely look at Isaiah. But Isaiah, already quaking with ache and guilt, can’t lose two friends. So, he comes up with a plan to keep Drew and him together­­­—they can spend the summer breaking records, for Darius.

But Drew’s not the same Drew since Darius was killed, and Isaiah, being Isaiah, isn’t enough for Drew anymore. Not his taste in clothes, his love for rock music, or his aversion to jumping off rooftops. And one day something unspeakable happens to Isaiah that makes him think Drew’s right. If only he could be less sensitive, more tough, less weird, more cool, less him, things would be easier. But how much can Isaiah keep inside until he shatters wide open?

Editor review

1 review
Growing from an emotional loss
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
First off, I’m not typically a lover of novels written in verse but the narrator’s voice uses slang and vocabulary making the words relatable and appealing for readers. The lines often sound like free verse with the words expressing the emotions and thoughts of the characters. A critical moment uses the words, “I scream… CARRR-CARRR!... Too… late.” Some of the lines read like sentences so young readers shouldn’t be intimidated or challenged to read them. Italicized phrases let readers know when characters are speaking to each other. The poetic narrative controls the pacing of the words to fully express the deep feelings and thoughts of the tragic accident and the emotional recovery.
Isaiah is the main character and his love of music is common among middle-graders, although his interest in classic rock groups is not. He has a secret collection of classic concert t-shirts with Aerosmith being his latest addition. Kids at this age sometimes have interests that might become embarrassing so Isaiah dresses up in his shirts and listens to the oldies rock songs in the safety of his closet. His friends sometimes comment that he’s a black boy trying to be white so he can’t let any of them know his secrets. Also, his dad thinks Isaiah needs to be toughened up so he can’t let his father know that he wonders what it would be like to polish his toes purple. Isaiah is afraid to let anyone know his inner self and this conflict continues until the end.
Dealing with grief is the main theme of the book. The characters struggle with different emotions associated with loss including sadness, denial, anger, and guilt. Isaiah is especially hurt that his other friend Drew won’t talk to him about the death of Darius. Isaiah won’t open up to anyone else either and the anger, grief, and guilt are eating him up inside. Handling death is a process and his parents give him the time and space to talk when he’s ready. Unfortunately, Isaiah’s emotions cause him to make some poor choices that cause his mother to make a life-changing decision.
What didn’t work as well:
The author may give Isaish too much to worry about as there are additional, serious subplots added to the story. The grief, doubt, self-expression issues, father’s absence, a racial incident, and Drew’s inner worries combine to complicate Isaiah’s life and give readers a myriad of topics to think about. Perhaps more than needed.
The final verdict:
Using verse to share the emotional story creatively shares the turmoil inside Isaiah’s mind. The language and slang make it relatable to young readers. Overall, it’s a sensitive story of grief and growth and I recommend you give it a shot.
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