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Stanley Will Probably Be Fine: 02/24/18

Stanley Will Probably Be Fineby Sally J. Pla

Stanley Will Probably Be Fine by Sally J. Pla is set in San Diego and per the acknowledgments was written after the author had broken her leg just before Comic-con. While The Someday Birds starts in San Diego, this one is set entirely in San Diego, with the middle section being Downtown and nearby Balboa Park.

Stanley Fortinbras suffers from anxiety which has only gotten worse with his father being overseas on a variety of charity missions and with his middle school principal hosting constant (but unpredictably scheduled) safety assemblies. Thankfully he finds an understanding adult in the office, Mrs. Ngozo who gives him a safe, quiet place whenever one of these assemblies are announced. It's during a lockdown drill that Stanley creates a comic book hero, alter-ego, that helps him deal with his anxiety.

Understanding Stanley's anxiety in the context of middle school is the set up for the second act — The Great San Diego Comic Quest — a treasure hunt around Downtown (and nearby) in the lead up to the comic convention (the off-brand fictional version of Comic-Con). The clues are a combination comic book reference paired with a local landmark reference to lead contestants around the center of the city to find tokens. Seven tokens equals VIP passes to the convention. This part of the book is very much like the old Magnum PI episode, "Treasure of Kalaniopu'u" (season 6, episode 8) but set in present day San Diego.

As a former San Diegan I loved this part of the book. The clues for the comic book heroes really do mesh with the city. There were a few times when I guessed the right answer before Stanley got there (but I won't share my insights here). If you're not familiar with the city, follow along with Stanley and his friend on Google Maps.

There's a lot more to Stanley Will Probably Be Fine than what I've mentioned here. These other issues are timely and relevant and organically introduced into the plot.

Five stars

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