Mike Albo delivers a thrilling transdimensional love story in what can best be described as The Breakfast Club meets Brit Marling's The OA, as five teens travel across the astral plane at different points in the past, present, and future of the rapidly changing Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Renaldo Calabasas may be the most talented writer Heron High has produced. But at the height of the AIDS crisis and amidst the homophobia present most everywhere in 1986, not many of his fellow students seem to agree. But something changes the night Rene is struck by lightning and only his closest friend, Katie, and love interest, Tommy, can tell he's undergone some inexplicable transformation. Meanwhile in 2036, Heron High students Priss and Gaye survive an ongoing plague called "The Virus" as they try to solve the mystery of what happened fifty years earlier in what locals affectionately call "The Murder House." At the scene of the crimes, they happen upon an old self-help novel that is effectively a guide to transdimensional travel. As bodies and minds merge and travel across the astral plane, the characters discover that they are not as isolated as they often feel and that the shadow chasing them all might very well be a reflection of their own darkest secrets.
Two teens living in different times connect through dreams to battle a mysterious evil in this ambitious speculative romance by Albo (Hornito: My Lie Life, for adults). In 1986, white-cued Tommy Gaye, who is fearful of the homophobia exhibited by his peers, hides his feelings for his Argentinian best friend, Renaldo "René" Calabasas. After purportedly being struck by lightning, René returns to school following a hospital stay with what Tommy perceives is a completely different personality. Meanwhile, in 2044, adopted Pris, who "was covered in birthmarks that made her look striped," yearns to learn more about her birth family's history. Their stories become intertwined when Tommy unlocks an ability to "dream travel" and appears to Pris in her sleep. Guided by the manifestation of the Lollipop Crunch cereal mascot, lollipop man, and aided by several powerful entities, the teens work together to master their abilities over the astral plane and save their loved ones. The narrative's myriad alternating perspectives and well-plotted timeline smartly propel intense action, and references to the AIDS crisis and an unnamed 2044 virus grounds this imaginative telling in contemporary reality. Ages 12–up.