Cagan, Kayla. Art Boss. Chronicle Books, 2018. 344p. ISBN 9781452160375. $17.99 MS, HS, OT, AT ***
Piper Perish’s dreams have finally come true: she’s living in New York while interning for an artist and is beyond excited to start art school in a few months. Only, things aren’t quite as perfect as she thought they’d be. She misses her family, her room is tiny, her financial aid is in jeopardy, and her boss doesn’t care about Piper’s artistic vision. In diary style entries, the novel follows Piper over the course of her first few months in NYC as she makes new friends, learns how to support herself, and make art that matters.
Art Boss is the sequel to the novel Piper Perish, but can easily be understood and enjoyed by someone who hasn’t read the first book. Although it is centered on post high school life, it still has YA appeal. Piper learns to think for herself and believe in her own art even when her boss doesn’t. She struggles to support herself financially and learns how to seek support from friends and loved ones. Piper is a relatable main character who makes mistakes and learns to pick herself up. Although not the main story, the novel does deal with activism as Piper incorporates environmentalism into her art.
Art Boss is an excellent book to recommend to teens dealing with anxiety about their futures or trying to prepare for post high school life. It is also perfect for reluctant readers as the diary entries (interspersed with Piper’s art) makes it a simpler read. In terms of diversity, there are some minor LGBTQ+ characters, but the majority of the main characters are white. There is a romance sub-plot that doesn’t go beyond kissing and there is no violent or triggering material, making this novel suitable for teens of all ages. Art Boss is perfect for fans of From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon or The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin.
Ari Nussbaum, Alameda Free Library