Morgan, 16, was born with a literal hole in her middle. This physical difference—which serves as an allegorical and metaphorical device throughout the novel—has forced Morgan into isolation; she only associates with her best friend and roommate, Caro, and her boyfriend, Todd. In a moment of self-acceptance, Morgan decides to “out” herself at a local club by wearing a cutoff T-shirt that exposes her midriff, not realizing that her act will bring unwanted attention, and she is mystified when she becomes famous on the internet. Then Morgan learns of Howie, a boy with a lump of similar size and shape as the hole in her midsection, who may not only be her cure but also, possibly, her missing piece. Debut author Fortmeyer delivers her messages overtly rather than weaving them in with subtlety: Howie’s mother, for example, imparts wisdom on how to be a good person with every line of dialogue. For many readers, though, this directness won’t reduce the impact of Fortmeyer’s otherwise powerful, witty, and funny tale, which integrates a sprinkle of magical realism into the mix. Ages 14–up. Agent: Molly Ker Hawn, Bent Agency. (Sept.)
Praise for Hole in the Middle
"Fortmeyer’s humor, sweetness and focus on sexual and medical consent are winning."
—The New York Times
"Dazzling, one hundred percent believable, and laugh-out-loud funny. Kendra Fortmeyer has an admirably weird brain.”
—Kelly Link, author of the Pulitzer Prize Finalist Get in Trouble
"An unabashedly feminist book [that] speaks directly to issues like body image and sexuality."
"Incredibly different from most contemporary books that you see on bookstore shelves . . . Highly recommended, as the story is just too lovely to miss out on."
—The Nerd Daily
"[A] powerful, witty, and funny tale, which integrates a sprinkle of magical realism into the mix."
"An empowering, timely feminist read about bodily autonomy and one young woman's fight to keep control of hers."
"Fortmeyer's debut is a delightful blend of magical realism, body positivity, and feminism that raises the issue of whether we can be complete in ourselves."
"Hole in the Middle is poetic and peculiar: a story about discovering yourself in all your strange excesses and missing parts and learning how to show them to the world.”
—Heidi Heilig, bestselling author of The Girl from Everywhere
"Kendra Fortmeyer's debut is more heart than holes, creatively brilliant, wacky and wise. An author to watch!”
—Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, William C. Morris finalist and author of The Smell of Other People’s Houses
"In this wildly imaginative page turner, Fortmeyer manages to sneak wisdom in with levity, profundity in with hilarity, and believability in with magic. She is a glowing talent to watch and follow.”
—Karim Dimechkie, author of Lifted by the Great Nothing
"Intriguing and innovative . . . The magical realist element allows for a sharp but never preachy take on body image, romance and internet culture . . . With this debut, Fortmeyer establishes herself as a writer to watch."
—The Irish Times
"I loved it . . . This is a book that teenagers actually need to read."
—Love YA Like Crazy Podcast
"I was blown away by Kendra's writing from page one."
—Reading, Writing and Me blog
Most teens feel like they're missing something, but 17-year-old Morgan was born with a literal hole through her abdomen.
Morgan's celebrity fitness guru mother has always shielded her smooth, egg-shaped difference from the world, but Morgan is tired of hiding. Armed with a fake ID, she heads to a local dance club, where, donning a belly shirt and empowered by her anonymity, she reveals the Hole to the world in an act that leaves her feeling free. It's not long before Morgan is an internet sensation, her body public property. She's scrutinized from every angle, the Hole the object of obscene jokes. Then her doctor introduces her to Howie, born with a lump of skin that's the Hole's perfect match. Genetic research on the two of them has led to the possibility of gene therapy that might close the Hole. Will Morgan remain true to herself, missing piece and all? Morgan narrates in a straightforward voice that is at once wry and heartfelt. The relationship between introvert Morgan and her best friend, fat-positive glamour girl Caroline, eclipses the dry love story that evolves between Morgan and sweet-natured Howie. Most characters, including freckled, Jewish Morgan, are assumed white; some people of color are mentioned in passing; and a briefly mentioned character is referred to with they/them pronouns.
An empowering, timely feminist read about bodily autonomy and one young woman's fight to keep control of hers. (Fiction. 12-18)