In a modern-day utopian community where mirrors, photos, and even words like beautiful and ugly are forbidden, a girl who has never seen her own face harbors a guilty curiosity about the outside world. A thoughtful exploration of self-image in a world familiar to readers of The Giver and The List.
Zailey has never seen her own face. She's never seen her reflection, or a photo of herself, or even a drawing. In the special community of Gladder Hill, cameras and mirrors are forbidden: it's why everyone's happier here. Nobody talks about anyone else's appearance. You're not supposed to even think about what other people look like, or what you look like.
But Zailey does.
She knows her superficial thoughts are wrong, and her sketchbook, filled with secret portraits of her classmates and neighbors, could get her in trouble. Yet she can't help but think those thoughts, and be curious about the outside world where she once lived, years ago. Most of all, she wonders what it's like to see herself—her own face.
When Zailey suddenly finds herself beyond the gates of her town, she has a chance to see if what she's been taught about the outside world is true and search for the mother she barely remembers. Only then will she find out the real story about Gladder Hill. But is she prepared for the truth?
Christina Collins grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Northern Ireland, where she’s always on the lookout for castle ruins and secret gardens. She holds a PhD from Queen’s University Belfast and an MFA from George Mason University, both in creative writing. Her debut novel, After Zero, was a 2019 NCTE/CLA Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts. Visit her website at www.christinacollinsbooks.com.
"The Giver meets Uglies in this intricately crafted world where any mention of looks is considered 'superficial' and children are kept from seeing their own faces. Christina Collins delivers a fast-paced, imaginative, and thoughtful tale that is destined to be the next beloved dystopian novel. Readers will race through it, eager to discover the fate of the endearing Zailey, and they will end it brimming with new questions to ponder about the drawbacks and power of appearance in our society." — Brigit Young, author of The Prettiest
"A captivating reflection of how we see ourselves and others. Readers simply won't be able to look away." — Abby Cooper, author of Sticks & Stones
"Immensely intriguing... sure to spark consideration of body image, beauty concepts, and what truly defines an individual" — Booklist
"Collins (After Zero) engages in a thoughtful psychological examination of how people view themselves and their bodies, touching briefly on body dysmorphia and disordered eating, and succeeds in creating a chilling vibe." — Publishers Weekly