By Leander Watts

“It was like she’d lost everything. Her name, her voice, any idea of who she was or what she looked like, who the people were around her. The only thing that mattered was right there in front of her on the stage,” observes Davi, the main character of Leander Watt’s Meet Me in the Strange, awestruck by Anna Z, the captivating girl whose passion and charisma will lead the fast friends on a magical, glam rock-fueled journey of self-discovery.

Set in a futuristic city with parallels to Rome, Davi, whose gender is never specified, is a follower of androgynous glam rocker Django Conn, whose lyrics and presence are worshipped by profoundly devoted fans, Davi is drawn to the confidence and unapologetic authenticity of the musician. Davi finds a kindred spirit in Anna Z, who understands the power of Django Conn’s music and believes the rock god may be something more than human. Drawn into Anna Z’s confident theories about human evolution, aliens, and the transformative power of music, the two follow Django Conn’s tour in search of answers… and meaning.

With a sensibility reminiscent of Andrew Smith, M.T. Anderson, and Francesca Lia Block, Watts’ writing is often dreamy, sometimes unsettling, and always weird and engaging. A coming of age story that celebrates the irresistible glister of glam rock, the importance of community and connection, and the fluidity of identity, Meet Me in the Strange fully immerses readers in its unforgettable world.

Grades 9+