Stella thought she’d made up a lie on the spot, asking her childhood friend if he remembered the strange public broadcast TV show with the unsettling host she and all the neighborhood kids appeared on years ago. But he does remember. And so does her mom. Why doesn’t Stella? The more she investigates the show and the grip it has on her hometown, the eerier the mystery grows.
Fiction and Excerpts 
We first need to establish the degree of my childhood aversion to tomatoes. It was fear, not dislike, since I’d never actually tasted one. There wasn’t a single form in which they weren’t scary: I rejected them as ketchup, gazpacho, soup, salsa, sauce, and in their natural form. White pizza only, please, and cream sauce on pasta. My sisters could chase me with a tomato and I would flee in terror—though granted, it was always safer to run if they were chasing me.
I’ve lied to you already. I said it was a childhood aversion, but it lasted until I was thirty.
My family moved to Toronto when I was fourteen. At the time, there was still a fifth year of high school required, a series of courses that involved lengthy essays and independent projects. The idea that I’d be graduating a year after my friends back in New York bothered me, and I determined that I would cram the fifth year into the fourth. I’d somewhere absorbed the idea that high school was hell and college (as well as anything else that came after) was better, and I should do everything I could to hasten the change.
Where had I gotten that idea? Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti wasn’t around yet, nor Diana Wynne Jones’ Year of the Griffin, nor Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, nor Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals. Here are five of the books that may have contributed to my rush to leave high school behind.
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