Quick Pick | Art Boss

“Quick Pick” is a blog feature that makes it easy to pick your next book. It’s also a perfect way for librarians & other educators to learn about a book and who to recommend it to. Think of it as a condensed review highlighting a book’s major themes & why it’s worthy of a spot on your (or your student’s, library patron’s, or friend’s) TBR.




Kayla Cagan
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Release date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Page count: 288

Goodreads Summary: “Texas, to New York City. Her days are spent exploring; her nights are filled with painting. It’s her lifelong dream come true . . . . Except life in the city isn’t as glamorous as it looks from afar. Piper’s high-pressure work as an assistant to a famous modern artist takes away time from her own art. And Piper’s new friend Grace, a budding activist, has Piper beginning to wonder if making great art is really enough.

In a story that stands alone but can be read as a companion novel to Piper Perish, acclaimed author Kayla Cagan returns with Piper’s powerful and utterly authentic journey of growing up into a strong, independent young woman—as she learns how to make life about art, and how to make that art matter. Art Boss will have readers asking big questions along with Piper. What is art for? What can art do? And how can a young artist change the world?”


  • Art as activism: Piper struggles with how to actualize her desire to make art that matters. She wants her art to mean something and to lead to meaningful discussion, thoughts, and change. Piper is inspired by other artists around her to change the way she looks at art.
  • Friendship: Piper’s new friendships with fellow artists are a major part of her coping to all the struggles of life after high school. She struggles to survive in NYC but her friends help keep her motivated and help her carry her mission through.
  • Self: so much of the book is about Piper figuring out who she is. She’s gone from being a big fish in a small pond, of sorts, to being one of many artists in a huge city. She struggles to see herself (and her art) as something that matters in a world where she feels disposable.
  • Expression: Piper is so used to using her art as self-expression, but suddenly she must adjust to working for someone else. She has difficulty creating art as instructed and carrying out her boss’s vision without letting her own creative vision shine. Piper must find new ways to express herself, which she does through sketches she leaves around the city for others to find.


  • Piper is a relatable character who deals with self-doubts, worries, and fears about not being good enough. Teen readers will connect with Piper’s struggles and see a bit of themselves in her. She’s not perfect and has to learn to pick herself up after making mistakes.
  • A realistic representation of life after high school. Piper goes through many adjustments and unexpected struggles: being away from her family, having new responsibilities, struggling to make money and pay bills, learning how to be an adult, and trying to figure out her future. Her life in NYC isn’t glamorous like she thought, and she’s instead left trying to piece her life together.
  • Diary-entry style with Piper’s sketches make this book a quick read that’s great for reluctant readers or those who like mixed-media format. Piper has an easy, real-sounding voice and readers feel like they’re listening to a friend. The art adds a visual element that helps readers imagine Piper’s art in real life.
  • Examples of meaningful relationships: a lot of the novel is about Piper developing relationships with other artists, from her intimidating boss to her poet friend Grace. Kayla Cagan captures how friendships and mentorships can play a huge role in young adulthood. Piper learns something and grows from each relationship.




  • Love diary entry and mixed-media format
  • Have trouble getting into dense text. Piper’s voice is so easy to read!
  • Have a passion for creating art
  • Are dealing with anxiety about post-high school life
  • Like sassy, strong-willed main characters






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