By Chris Baron
On Sale Now!
The Gray is a sensitively told middle grade story from Chris Baron about living with anxiety and finding ways to cope.
It’s been a tough year for Sasha—he’s been bullied at his middle school and his anxiety, which he calls the Gray, is growing. Sasha’s dad tells him to “toughen up”—and he does, but with unfortunate, hurtful results. His parents and therapist agree that a summer in the country with his aunt might be the best medicine, but it’s the last place he wants to be. He’ll be away from his best friend, video games, and stuck in the house that reminds him of his beloved uncle who died two years earlier.
His aunt is supportive, and there are lots of places to explore, and even some potential new friends. When Sasha is introduced at a local ranch to a horse coincidentally–incredibly–nicknamed the Gray, he feels he’s found a kindred spirit.
But his own Gray is ever-present. When one of his new friends disappears, Sasha discovers that the country is wilder and more mysterious than he imagined. He tries to muster enough courage to help in the search . . . but will the Gray hold him back?
Praise for The Gray:
“Baron intricately captures teen friendship dynamics, interweaving quiet suspense by gradually divulging a pivotal, dark moment in the town’s recent past. Sensory-rich settings and viscerally imagined depictions of anxiety manifest an immersive world without pulling punches, carving a hopeful path for Sasha’s mental health management. An author’s note shares Baron’s lived experience with anxiety.” —Publishers Weekly
“The central idea—that, since water can slowly change a rock, any person on Earth can also change, a concept connected to Uncle Lou’s beloved story from the Talmud about Akiva and the Stone—is one of enormous importance. Baron also gets props for his sympathetic and evenhanded depiction of anxiety and the many different ways to treat it, from in-the-minute breathing exercises to appropriate medication.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Thirteen-year-old Sasha deals with generalized anxiety and panic attacks, which he has dubbed “The Gray.” They get worse when he spends too much time on his electronic devices, so his concerned parents decide a device-free month upstate with his great-aunt Ruthie will be a tonic…Happily, once there he quickly makes a friend in Ivy; unhappily, he runs afoul of a band of bullies, from whom he is rescued by a mysteriously taciturn, solitary boy named Eli…Baron’s often-quiet story is well-plotted, and the characters are empathetic, especially Eli. The theme, change, is well-handled and perhaps will change readers as much as it does Sasha in the end.” —Booklist