It’s the first day of senior year, and Euphemia “Effie” Galanos already wishes that high school were over. Effie has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and her last year of high school is not off to a good start. The accessible door openers at the building’s entrance don’t work, an obnoxious couple keeps using one of the hallway ramps as a makeout spot (“Swapping Spit Slope”) and the school’s incompetent student accommodations coordinator fails to log part of Effie’s accommodation plan, which results in her locker being emptied by a janitor and all her belongings being sent to the main office.
As the school year gets underway, Effie continues to struggle to speak up to the principal about her concerns with on-campus accessibility problems that should have been resolved a long time ago. Repeating her needs and bringing attention to what makes her different—over and over again—is embarrassing and exhausting. It feels like her friends and classmates get to do so much without even realizing it, and Effie longs for her own taste of freedom. She’s “ready to move on . . . to something bigger. Something that gives [her] that this is it feeling.” She thinks that Prospect University, a beautiful and prestigious college in New York City, might be the answer, but her mother isn’t sure that Effie is ready for such a big change.
In Where You See Yourself, debut author Claire Forrest creates a moving portrait of a teenager finding her voice and developing the courage to advocate for herself and others. Like Effie, Forrest has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and she renders Effie in such sharp focus that readers will instantly connect with her experiences and dreams for the future.
The novel’s frank depiction of a world that dismisses accessibility solutions as “too complicated” or “too much to ask for” and treats disabled people as “obstacles” may be eye-opening for some readers, and Forrest approaches such injustices with energy, determination and a spirit of hopefulness. She doesn’t skimp on fun, either, filling Effie’s final days of high school with parties, promposals and a sweet friends-to-lovers romance. Where You See Yourself is an effervescent, emotional story with all the makings of an instant YA classic.