In an alternate reality a lot like our world, every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth. The poorest of the poor are the size of rats, and billionaires are the size of skyscrapers.
Warner and his sister Prayer are destitute—and tiny. Their size is not just demeaning, but dangerous: day and night they face mortal dangers that bigger richer people don’t ever have to think about, from being mauled by cats to their house getting stepped on. There are no cars or phones built small enough for them, or schools or hospitals, for that matter—there’s no point, when no one that little has any purchasing power, and when salaried doctors and teachers would never fit in buildings so small. Warner and Prayer know their only hope is to scale up, but how can two littlepoors survive in a world built against them?
A brilliant, warm, funny trip, unlike anything else out there, and a social novel for our time in the tradition of 1984 or Invisible Man. Inequality is made intensely visceral by an adventure and tragedy both hilarious and heartbreaking.
In Yewess, an alternate America where money (called munmun) dictates one's physical size, 14-year-old Warner, his older sister Prayer, and their disabled mother (all rat-size "littlepoors")\nare barely surviving; the siblings' father was crushed when someone stepped on their house. Warner finds some solace in the communal slumberland of Dreamworld, where everyone is "middlescale." The siblings set off with their friend Usher to find a rich husband for Prayer, but their journey is fraught with indignities and danger ("If we just all stick together then no one's getting facechewed by a rat today," says Warner as they set out). After being jailed, Warner is freed when a young woman named Kitty makes him her pet project; her wealthy father offers him a chance at success, but "scaling up" comes with a price. In a brash and wildly inventive novel, Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) effectively uses a gonzo alternate reality to frame urgent issues that include income inequality, rampant consumerism, and class disparity. Warner may be small, but his giant heart and brutally honest narration propel this intense, cuttingly funny novel. Ages 14 up.