Retro by Sofia Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman shares the sound track to Luna Maria Valero Inglesias’ life and her efforts at revolution. Living in Northern California and attending El Dorado High School, Luna learns the hard way that a screen shot can be as lethal as a gunshot. After her supposed friend Samantha Darby sets her up as a shoplifter, Luna takes revenge by posting a character-damaging video that leads to Samantha’s suicide attempt. Now ridden by guilt and clinging to hope, Luna reaches out to Limbo, the app that served as the gasoline to the match she lit that set Samantha ablaze.
Surprisingly, Limbo executives agree to help the student body at El Dorado High make real connections with a challenge to spend a year without recent technology like cell phones. With the promise of a full-ride scholarship for the winner, Luna is totally on board to go retro; after all, her least favorite F-word is failure. As the various participants are gradually eliminated for tech infractions, Luna and her friends realize how small towns are big on judgment of those who don’t fit the status quo.
This is an important book for anyone who needs to learn that “behind every screen is a human being with feelings, insecurities, and a beating heart” (46) that craves acceptance without judgment. It is for anyone who wishes to relativizar a life—a Spanish word that means to “give perspective to what really matters and maybe find out that so many of those little worries aren’t even worth your time” (374).
Throwing off the pressure to be “normal” or to fit in, Luna and her fellow retromaniacs realize that “just because you’re thirsty doesn’t mean you go around drinking poison” (114). Together, they learn to face their demons, and in the process become like family. Whether the abyss Luna created with Samantha can be bridged and whether there is a chance to still write chapters about that friendship is one conflict the reader will discover.
Ultimately, this novel is about teens embracing their unique identities and accepting that they are all works in progress. It is also about having the perseverance and will to take on a corporate social media giant that wants to seize power, control minds, and influence buying habits.
- Posted by Donna