A neurodiverse twelve-year-old girl is shown an amazing new technology that gives her another chance to talk to the best friend she lost. But she soon discovers the corporation behind the science hides dark secrets that only she can expose in this heartwarming and heroic sophomore novel from the award-winning author of A Kind of Spark.
A CILIP Carnegie Medal nominee!
*"McNicoll writes Adrien and narrator Cora with nuance and verve." -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
It has never been easy for Cora to make friends. Cora is autistic, and sometimes she gets overwhelmed and stims to soothe her nerves. Adrien has ADHD and knows what it is like to navigate a world that isn’t always built for the neurodiverse. The two are fast friends until an accident puts Adrien in a coma.
Cora is devastated until Dr. Gold, the CEO of Pomegranate Institute, offers to let Cora talk to Adrien again, as a hologram her company develops. While at first enchanted, Cora soon discovers that the hologram of Adrien doesn’t capture who he was in life. And the deeper Cora dives into the mystery, the more she sees Pomegranate has secrets to hide. Can Cora uncover Pomegranate's dark truth before their technologies rewrite history forever?
By exploring ethical dilemmas around digital immortality and neurodivergent identity, McNicoll (A Kind of Spark) grants this speculative novel the intensity of a psychological thriller. In near-future London, autistic 12-year-old Cora Byers is a budding investigative journalist navigating her mother's death, relentless bullying, and whether to "care about normal" at school. When she meets Adrien Hawkins, a homeschooled boy with ADHD who's unabashedly self-accepting, their blossoming friendship brightens her days. Adrien's father, wealthy Magnus Hawkins, runs the Pomegranate Institute, an innovative corporation that's developing lifelike interactive holograms with a goal of digital immortality, preserving loved ones and celebrities after death. The institute is eager to recruit Cora as a subject so that they can learn to re-create "that kind of brain." Despite strong misgivings from her father—and from Adrien, once a grudging participant—Cora joins the program, in the process discovering new truths about grieving, her autistic identity, and the Institute's true goals. Neurodivergent author McNicoll writes Adrien and narrator Cora with nuance and verve, interlacing deep moral conundrums with raw emotional revelations to make a disturbing, potentially prescient read. Most characters cue as white. Ages 8–12.