There is a beautiful passage toward the beginning of The Scapegracers where the character talks about the ways and reasons in which people direct anger and frustration toward girls and young women, why and how they get underestimated. Hannah Abigail Clarke doesn’t make those mistakes.
This is a contemporary fantasy about teenage witches and their friendship, about trying to figure out who you are and what the hell you’re doing in a world with a lot more to it than you expected. So: the teen experience. With cool new friends who sometimes scare you, when you’re scaring yourself, and also horrible enemies, and also a crush, and what even is this fancy restaurant. So: the teen. experience. In so very very many ways.
Sideways and her friends are so well drawn, so very skillfully and respectfully done, and by respectfully I don’t mean that Clarke mistakes them for superheroes or even adults, but that they are allowed to be themselves. They are allowed to be grumpy, bristly, snarky, loving, guilty, full of rage; they are allowed to like eyeliner and worry that they’re screwing up various things; they rush in where wiser heads might advise caution and try things that just might work (but also might not). They are so human and so great, and I’m delighted that this is only their first book.