By Julia Watts
Set in rural Tennessee, QUIVER by Julia Watts is a brilliant YA novel that focuses on the unlikely friendship between two teens from opposite sides of the culture wars. Libby is the oldest child of six, going on seven, in a family that adheres to the "quiverfull" lifestyle: strict evangelical Christians who believe that they should have as many children as God allows because children are like arrows in the quiver of "God's righteous warriors." Like the other families who adhere to this philosophy, Libby's family regards the father as the "Christian patriarch" and leader and the mother as the "helpmeet" who gives birth to, cares for, and homeschools the children. Meanwhile, Zo is the gender fluid offspring of Libby's new neighbors who have moved to the country from Knoxville in hopes of living a slower-paced, more natural life. Zo and hir family are as far to the left ideologically as Libby's family is to the right, and yet Libby and Zo, who are the same age, feel a connection that leads them to friendship—a friendship that seems doomed from the start because of their families' differences. Through deft storytelling, built upon extraordinary character development, author Watts offers a close examination of the contemporary compartmentalization of social interactions, and forms a story that resonates far beyond its pages.