LEX Copyright Iroda / LEX Copyright Office

by Mandy Davis

SUPERSTAR by Mandy Davis

Perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and Wonder, this uplifting debut novel from Mandy David follows space-obsessed Lester Musselbaum as he experiences the challenges of his first days of public school: making friends, facing bullies, finding his "thing," and accidentally learning of his autism-spectrum diagnosis.

Lester’s first days as a fifth grader at Quarry Elementary School are not even a little bit like he thought they would be—the cafeteria is too loud for Lester's ears, there are too many kids, and then there's the bully.

Lester was always home-schooled, and now he’s shocked to be stuck in a school where everything just seems wrong. That's until he hears about the science fair, which goes really well for Lester! This is it. The moment where I find out for 100 percent sure that I won.

But then things go a bit sideways, and Lester has to find his way back. A touching peek into the life of a sensitive autism-spectrum boy facing the everydayness of elementary school, Superstar testifies that what you can do isn’t nearly as important as who you are.

“In an excellent first novel, Davis channels the idiosyncratic perspective and voice of Lester, a 10-year-old stargazer, as he makes the difficult transition from homeschooling to fifth grade. Layers of unspoken grief for Lester’s astronaut father, who died five years earlier, loom large, especially because Lester’s mother resists her son’s avid interest in space. When she takes a job at the library and Lester starts school, Davis strongly sketches how his personality and quirks make for a difficult adjustment: Lester struggles with a bully, can’t stand the cacophony of the cafeteria, lacks tact and social skills, calls out in class, and doesn’t handle schedule changes well. Lester is an immensely sympathetic narrator as he navigates a friendship with a fashion-forward classmate, competes in the science fair, and participates in a kickball game. When he opens an official letter addressed to his mother, he discovers that he’s been diagnosed with “autism spectrum disorder” and works to understand what that means. This unsentimental portrait of an endearing and memorable protagonist offers powerful insight into living with autism.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Autism gets the unsentimentally sensitive treatment it deserves in Davis’ debut….Lester’s first-person narrative is honest and pure. The text never infantilizes or romanticizes him, something that often happens in an attempt to teach a lesson about kids who don’t fit into any particular box. An intelligent and gently humorous story about an underdog who explores his place in a world that doesn’t readily accommodate kids who possess different ways of being or thinking.” – Kirkus, starred review