ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2019
The Poet X
Book Jacket   Acevedo, Elizabeth
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062662804 Fifteen-year-old Xiomara, a self-described "brown and big and angry" Dominican girl from Harlem, finds peace in writing poetry. The slow-burning suspense of what will transpire when devout Catholic Mami discovers Xiomara's clandestine relationship with a classmate is eclipsed only by the devastation that occurs when Mami reads Xiomara's candid poetry journal. Acevedo's debut verse novel is an arresting portrait of a young poet coming into her own. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Poetry helps first-generation Dominican-American teen Xiomara Batista come into her own.Fifteen-year old Xiomara ("See-oh-MAH-ruh," as she constantly instructs teachers on the first day of school) is used to standing out: she's tall with "a little too much body for a young girl." Street harassed by both boys and grown men and just plain harassed by girls, she copes with her fists. In this novel in verse, Acevedo examines the toxicity of the "strong black woman" trope, highlighting the ways Xiomara's seeming unbreakability doesn't allow space for her humanity. The only place Xiomara feels like herself and heard is in her poetryand later with her love interest, Aman (a Trinidadian immigrant who, refreshingly, is a couple inches shorter than her). At church and at home, she's stifled by her intensely Catholic mother's rules and fear of sexuality. Her present-but-absent father and even her brother, Twin (yes, her actual twin), are both emotionally unavailable. Though she finds support in a dedicated teacher, in Aman, and in a poetry club and spoken-word competition, it's Xiomara herself who finally gathers the resources she needs to solve her problems. The happy ending is not a neat one, making it both realistic and satisfying. Themes as diverse as growing up first-generation American, Latinx culture, sizeism, music, burgeoning sexuality, and the power of the written and spoken word are all explored with nuance. Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara's name: "one who is ready for war." (Verse fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
Leah on the Offbeat
Book Jacket   Albertalli, Becky
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062643803 Leah, Simon's friend from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, stars in a story of their friend group's last few months of high school. Leah, who hasn't told others she's bisexual, slowly falls for her once-estranged friend Abby but worries about a variety of repercussions. Frequently funny, this novel is also socially aware, addressing issues of race, class, and body image in addition to sexuality. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Leah Burke is perched on the precipice of change in the final months of senior year, before everyone in her diverse friend group scatters off to become their college selves. Leah, Simon Spier's best friend in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015), takes center stage in this sequel. She knows she's bisexual, but she's only out to her mom, not her friends, not even to Simon, who is gay. Leah's cynical and socially awkward but also confident in herself. She's unapologetically fat. She's a talented artist and a ripper on the drums. She's also fierce when called for. When a white friend implies that their classmate Abby Suso only got accepted to her college because she is black, Leah, also white, calls out her bias directly (Abby is not present for this conversation), sparking a nuanced subplot on racism and white allyship. Mostly, though, senior year is characterized by Leah's aching crush on Abby, the oh-so-beautiful and oh-so-straight girlfriend of Leah's good friend Nick. When the prom-scene ending finally arrives, even the most Leah-worthy cynics will be rooting for her. With complex characters, authentic dialogue, and messy-but-beautiful friendships, this sequel is more than capable of standing on its own. A subversive take on the coming-of-age romance that will leave readers feeling like witnesses to a very special moment in Leah's life and filled with gratitude for sharing it. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
The Cruel Prince
 Black, Holly
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316310277 Madoc, Jude's parents' murderer, raises Jude and her siblings in the realm of Faerie, where he is general of the High King. Mortal Jude is drawn into the web of lies, deceit, and political intrigue that swirls around the Faerie Court. With complicated characters, a suspenseful plot, and the Faerie setting of The Darkest Part of the Forest, Black's latest is sure to enchant fans. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.Judebroken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessnesshas never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black's latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
A Heart in a Body in the World
 Caletti, Deb
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481415200 Eighteen-year-old distance runner Annabelle embarks on a cross-country run to manage the anxiety, guilt, and sorrow dogging her since the boy she calls "The Taker" irrevocably changed her life nine months ago with a gun. Readers take the physical and mental journey with Annabelle as she relinquishes feelings of self-blame and inspires others to act. Caletti's lyrical third-person, present-tense narration blends immediate detail with gut-wrenching flashbacks to great effect. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Annabelle Agnelli runs from Seattle to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to outrun a traumatizing incident that occurred less than a year earlier.Eighteen-year-old Seattleite Annabelle is hardworking, pretty, and seemingly has it all: good grades, great friends, and a loving family. Following a tragedy, however, Annabelle is wracked with guilt over a crime she did not commit but feels responsible for, and as a result, she suffers from severe anxiety and PTSD. The only thing she feels she can do now is run. Joined by her Italian immigrant grandfather, Grandpa Ed, in his RV and cheered on by a self-appointed publicity team comprising her 13-year-old brother, Malcolm, and her friends Zach (indicated East Asian by his surname) and Olivia (presumed white), Annabelle runs across the nation in an attempt to come to terms with the event perpetrated by a person whom she dubs The Taker. Written in the present tense, Caletti's (What's Become of Her, 2017, etc.) narrative conveys a sense of urgency and immediacy as she presents issues familiar to many young women, including rape culture, violence, and the internalization of guilt and social critique.A timely novel with strong secondary characters that emphasizes the complexities of the heart and doing what is right. (Fiction. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
Dread Nation
Book Jacket   Ireland, Justina
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Fighting the undead is a breeze for Jane, but the fight for freedom? That's a different story.The Civil War is over, but mostly because the dead rose at Gettysburgand then started rising everywhere else. Now the dangerous task of killing these shamblers rests on black people and Native Americans taken from their homes and forced into combat training schools at a young age. Jane McKeene, a black teen born to a white mother, is nearly finished with her training. She's fierce with a scythe but longs to find her way home to her mother. However, her plan is thwarted when she and her friends run afoul of a corrupt mayor and are sent to a Western outpost called Summerland. Sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface there, and the more Jane discovers, the more determined she is to escape, especially as the shamblers keep multiplying. All the classic elements of the zombie novel are present, but Ireland (Promise of Shadows, 2014, etc.) takes the genre up a notch with her deft exploration of racial oppression in this alternative Reconstruction-era America. It's no coincidence that the novel will prompt readers to make connections with today's racial climate.With a shrewd, scythe-wielding protagonist of color, Dread Nation is an exciting must-read. (Historical fiction/horror. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062570604 Just days after Jane was born, the Civil War became a war between the living and the undead. Now seventeen, Jane is shipped off to a frontier outpost to be a white society lady's Attendant, a chaperone/bodyguard warding off scandal and "shamblers" alike. A refreshingly subversive zombie action story/alternate history featuring a biracial, bisexual heroine--and an unflinching condemnation of institutionalized American racism, then and now. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2019
Mondays Not Coming.
Book Jacket   Jackson, Tiffany D.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Washington, D.C., eighth-graders Claudia Coleman and her best (and only) friend, Monday Charles, were inseparable, often mistaken for twinsuntil the day Monday disappeared. Brown-skinned with kinky hair, the girls had each other's backs, and Claudia relied on Monday in ways no one else knew. But when Monday doesn't show up for the first day of school with no warning or explanation, Claudia becomes worried. After a week goes by, Claudia begins a search for her Monday without much help from the adults around her. Claudia refuses to give up on Monday like she thinks everyone else has: How can a young girl just disappear and have no one look for her? The plot unfolds in nonchronological order, a technique that risks having the story feel clumsy at times. Despite a resolution that reads as somewhat anticlimactic and a narrator who is sometimes as nave as she is skeptical, the draw of this novel, which was inspired by actual events, lies in its interwoven themes of the effects of gentrification, especially on black residents whose connections, culture, and community become afterthoughts in the face of capitalism; mental illness in the black community; and biases around the value of missing children, black girls in particular. Secrets and how silence often causes more harm than we can imagine are also addressed.A tragic and heartbreaking tale of love, loss, grief, growth, and perseverance. (Fiction. 13-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062422675 When Monday doesn't show up on the first day of eighth grade--or in the days after that--Claudia undertakes a heartwrenching quest to find her missing best friend. The search leads readers through a winding, nonlinear tale of sisterhood, identity, loss, and secrets kept and revealed. Social issues such as neighborhood gentrification, race, poverty, as well as the healing of connection and the destruction in disconnection, underlie the gripping plot. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2019
Darius the Great is Not Okay
 Khorram, Adib
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Darius Kellner suffers from depression, bullying by high school jocks, and a father who seems to always be disappointed in him. When Darius' grandfather becomes terminally ill, Darius, along with his parents and younger sister, travels to Iran for the first time in his life. Iranian on his mother's side and white American on his father's side, Darius never quite fits in. He's mocked for his name and nerdy interests at Chapel Hill High School in Portland, Oregon, and doesn't speak enough Farsi to communicate with his Iranian relatives either. When he arrives in Iran, learning to play the Persian card game Rook, socializing, and celebrating Nowruz with a family he had never properly met before is all overwhelming and leaves Darius wondering if he'll ever truly belong anywhere. But all that changes when Darius meets Sohrab, a Baha'i boy, in Yazd. Sohrab teaches Darius what friendship is really about: loyalty, honesty, and someone who has your back in a football (soccer) match. For the first time in a long time, Darius learns to love himself no matter what external forces attempt to squash his confidence. Khorram's debut novel is filled with insight into the lives of teens, weaving together the reality of living with mental illness while also dealing with identity and immigration politics.This tear-jerker will leave readers wanting to follow the next chapter in Darius' life. (Fiction. 12-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
Foolish Hearts.
 Mills, Emma
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In Mills' (This Adventure Ends, 2016, etc.) latest, the beginning of senior year leads to new friendships and new love. When Claudia accidentally overhears the breakup of Iris and Paige, Prospect-Landower School for Girls' "cutest couple," no-nonsense Iris threatens to ruin her. Instead, Claudia and Iris strike up an unlikely friendship after a failed group project forces them to participate in the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Iris is Chinese-American, the other primary characters ambiguously described, suggesting a white default. Claudia, who previously hadn't bothered to make friends outside her childhood bestie, Zoe, begins to open herself to her peers. Chief among them is outgoing, kindhearted Gideon, a student at nearby all-male Danforth Prep. Even when Claudia lets herself believe that Gideon may actually be interested in her, a previous breakup makes her hesitant to pursue a new relationship ("It's just easier to never start something than to have to see it end"). Unfortunately, the story follows the tired popular-boy-falls-for-unpopular-girl trope; otherwise, however, the characters are wonderfully fresh and honest. Claudia narrates in funny, conversational first-person present as the plot meanders toward opening night of Midsummer, allowing time for Claudia's blooming relationships and self-confidence to develop. The course of true love never did run smooth, but in the case of these two lovers, the journey is worth your while. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781627799379 Insecure high-school senior Claudia and hard-edged class president Iris are assigned to work on the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. As Iris regrets a break-up with her girlfriend and Claudia hopes for romance with a popular boy, an unlikely friendship evolves and expands. Told in Claudia's conversational voice, the novel's realistic characters tread familiar YA territory in a fresh, candid way. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2019
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe
Book Jacket   Norton, Preston
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781484790625 At six feet, six inches tall and two hundred and fifty pounds, Cliff Hubbard's cruel school nickname is "Neanderthal." At home, his hateful dad continues the bullying, and Cliff blames himself for his brother's recent suicide. Then quarterback Aaron has a near-death experience and God commands him to enlist Cliff's help to improve their school. Sixteen-year-old Cliff's expletive-filled, sharply funny, and bittersweet coming-of-age narrative is completely captivating. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. All the tropes of YA fictionsuicide, depression, drug abuse, bullying, problems of race, class, and gender, high school cliques, and their ensuing dramaare exploited in this mildly entertaining novel.Sixteen-year-old Cliff is a basically likable teen, but with a passive mother, alcoholic father, and dead brother, he has issues to work through, not least of which is his size. At 6 feet 6 inches tall and 250 pounds, he's earned the unwelcome nickname "Neanderthal." When Aaron, one of Cliff's tormentors, returns to Happy Valley High School following a coma-induced change of heart, he insists that God has given him a list of tasks that he and Cliff must complete together. The boys' rapid change from animosity to friendship as they work on the list is convenient but unlikely. The romantic threads in the story are equally unrealistic, serving mostly as a way to introduce sexual fantasy into the narrative. All this is revealed in first-person narration and expletive-laced dialogue. Norton (Marrow, 2015, etc.) seems to be working too hard to be cool. Too much happens, too quickly to these stereotypical characters: jocks, stoners, computer nerds, airhead girls, and Jesus teens. A harsh principal and an English teacher who has lost his passion for teaching have similarly quick attitude adjustments.Teens who enjoy snarky commentary on high school life may be satisfied with these shortcuts, but Norton doesn't open any new doors to the high school universe. (Fiction. 15-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
Frankie
Book Jacket   Plozza, Shivaun.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250142993 Seventeen-year-old Frankie Vega has a quick temper and even quicker wit. Repercussions from attacking a classmate and hurtful memories of those who've let her down (like her addict mother) are compounded by the appearance--and subsequent disappearance--of a previously unknown half-brother, fourteen-year-old Xavier. Frankie's authentic voice carries a gritty and layered story. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The members of the Italian-Australian Vega family aren't known for their contributions to society."Dark-olive" Frankie, with her "aggressive tendencies," has been suspended from school for breaking a classmate's nose with the complete works of Shakespeare; Juliet, Frankie's drug-addicted mother, abandoned Frankie when she was 4; and Frankie's uncle Terry is currently serving a 15-year sentence for multiple armed robberies. When Xavier, Frankie's half brother, pops out of nowhere, Aunt Vinnie, Frankie's guardian and the only Vega on the right side of the law, warns Frankie not to get too close to the boy with whom she shares a mother. At first Frankie doesn't know what to think of the 14-year-old. Is he a junkie? A liar? A thief? How far from the Vega tree has this newly discovered apple fallen? Is he involved in the recent spate of burglaries in the neighborhood? When Xavier goes missing, the only people Frankie can rely on are her best friend, the caustically funny Cara Lam (whose implied Chinese heritage goes unexplored), and Nate, a white, blue-eyed law-breaking indie poseur. Frankie's first-person narration gives readers a well-rounded picture of a formerly bullied teen from the wrong side of the tracks struggling to make sense of her past and how it affects her present relationships. A gritty and darkly witty debut. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
What Girls Are Made Of
 Arnold, Elana
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Pulling back the curtain on the wizard of social expectations, Arnold (Infandous, 2015, etc.) explores the real, knotted, messy, thriving heartbeat of young womanhood. When Nina Faye's mother tells her that there is no such thing as unconditional love, that even a mother's love for a daughter could end at any time, Nina believes herafter all, she has already seen many conditions of love at play: beauty, money, aloofness, sex. Two years later, the white, now-16-year-old not only confirms that these and more are unspoken stipulations of her relationship with her boyfriend, Seth (also white), but also finds they are part of the very fabric of cisgender girlhood that suddenly threatens to smother her. Nina's embroiling first-person prose alternating with what are revealed to be her own short stories lifts and examines the veils that encapsulate all the "shoulds" and "supposed tos" of teenage girlhood to expose bodily function, desire, casual cruelty, sex and masturbation, miscarriage and abortion, and, eventually, self-care. Arnold interweaves myriad landscapes, from the parched affluence of California neighborhoods to the ordered sadness of a high-kill animal shelter where Nina volunteers, from the sculpted terrain of Rome's brutalized virgin martyrs to the imperfect physicality of Nina's own body, into a narrative wholeness that is greater than its parts. Unflinchingly candid, unapologetically girl, and devastatingly vital. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic.
 Bardugo, Leigh
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250122520 Six fairy tales set in the Imperial Russiaflavored fantasy world of Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone and sequels) have the feel of centuries-old tales, but the ending of each offers a twist that recasts the story with a more modern sensibility. The stories are decorated in the margins with a cumulative illustration (one visual element added per page) plus a full-spread illustration at each tale's conclusion. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Six reimagined fairy tales set in the Grishaverse. Bardugo returns to the setting of Shadow and Bone (2012) with both original tales and familiar ones retold. Three are set in the Russia-like Ravka, including "The Witch of Duva." This "Hansel and Gretel" variant plays on stereotypes about villainy held by protagonist Nadya. (It also replaces candy with mouthwatering meals: "crispy roast goose," "butter-soaked blini," "black bread spread with soft cheese," "hot tea laced with sugar," "sweet rolls with prune jam.") From the island nation of Kerch, there's "The Soldier Prince," a retelling of The Nutcracker that raises questions about the selfhood of magical creatures. The Fjerdan "When Water Sang Fire" provides a villain origin story for "The Little Mermaid" that owes far more to Disney than to Hans Christian Andersen; it's nevertheless gorgeously otherworldly. Only the Ravkan stories offer substantial local flavor, though Zemeni Ayama is brown-skinned while the Fjerdan mermaids are fair. Kipin's two-color illustrated borders build cumulatively and fascinatingly, culminating in a double-page spread for each story. The more stylized illustrations, such as the thorns and labyrinth building slowly around the "Beauty and the Beast" variant "Ayama and the Thorn Wood," are the most successful; depictions of people are a little cutesy for the eerie prose. Any lover of retellings or original fairy tales will enjoy these offerings, whether they're new to Bardugo's worlds or are established fans. (Fantasy. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
The Gentlemans Guide to Vice and Virtue.
Book Jacket   Lee, Mackenzi
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062382801 Eighteen-year-old Monty, spoiled heir to a wealthy estate in eighteenth-century Britain, is determined to retrieve an alchemical panacea and cure his lifelong best friend Percy (with whom Monty is hopelessly in love) of his epilepsy. Mayhem, adventure, and a swoon-worthy emotional roller coaster of a romance ensue. A genre tribute, satire, and exemplar in one: trope-filled in the most gleeful way. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An 18th-century Grand Tour goes exquisitely wrong. Eighteen-year-old white viscount Henry "Monty" Montague is as known for his dashing looks as his penchant for boozeand boys. Before his abusive father grooms him to run the estate, he and his mixed-race best friend, Percy, orphan son of a British colonist and a Barbadian woman, are sent on a yearlong Grand Tourafter which he and Percy will likely be separated forever. Adding insult, their Tour begins under the proviso that, after Monty's sister is delivered to school in Marseille, Monty will remain on the sober straight and narrow or else risk loss of title and fortune. Monty wastes no time in demolishing this agreement in Paris when he gets hammered, offends Percy, insults a duke, ends up naked at Versailles, and steals an objet from the palace in a fit of childish rage. The theft ignites an adventure that illuminates a side of life the trio wouldn't have otherwise seen. Issues of same-sex romance walk in stride with those of race as Monty and Percy find their footing amorously, sexually, and socially. Their realized attraction could mean imprisonment or death, and their relationship is often misconstrued as lord and valet due to Percy's brown skin. The book's exquisite, bygone meter and vernacular sit comfortably on a contemporary shelf. And the friction of racism, tyrannical entitled politicians, and misguided disapproval of homosexuality also have a relevance rooted in current culture's xeno- and homophobia. Austen, Wilde, and Indiana Jones converge in this deliciously anachronistic bonbon. (Historical fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
Sparrow
Book Jacket   Moon, Sarah
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In a world where everyone else seems to know how to get along, Sparrow Cooke, an eighth-grade black girl in Brooklyn, finds solace in flying like a bird whenever she's uncomfortable, until the day comes when that's no longer an option.When Sparrow is found on a rooftop, everyone assumes it's a suicide attempt, and she's suddenly thrust into the experience of hospitals, therapy, and a mom who doesn't understand. But Sparrow wasn't trying to kill herself. She was escaping her feelings of awkwardness by imagining she was high in the sky, soaring with a flock of birds. This is her main coping mechanism for dealing with her friendlessness and the death of one of her trusted adults, the librarian Mrs. Wexler. Can she learn how to stay on Earth and deal with the things that scare her? An extremely diverse cast of characters, including people of different races, gender, and sexual orientation, drives the strong, delicate narrative of Moon's debut novel. Sparrow deals with different emotional issues against a backdrop of lyrical language and touching images, with a healthy dose of musical connections that beg to be added to a playlist and a bibliography of favorite books that is as consciously diverse as the cast. Sparrow is a character to learn from. Both inspiring and useful for anyone who's ever felt like they don't belong. (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781338032581 African American eighth grader Sparrow suffers from crippling shyness and anxiety made worse by the tragic loss of her beloved school librarian. Sparrow copes by imagining herself flying with the birds; she's put in therapy (which includes attending rock-band camp) after she's found on the school rooftop. Despite an uneven plot, likable Sparrow elevates this sensitive depiction of mental illness and the transformative power of music. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2018
Long Way Down
 Reynolds, Jason
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge. Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother's gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each "ghost" speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share. This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
Strange the Dreamer
 Taylor, Laini
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316341684 When the fabled city of Weep recruits the kingdom of Zosma's best minds for an undefined problem, lowly librarian Lazlo finagles a spot on the delegation. Meanwhile, "godspawn" Sarai has lived in a forified citadel over Weep ever since the gods were slaughtered for sexual violence. Taylor has spun another mesmerizing tale with captivating twists, intriguing characters, beautiful language, and baroque flourishes of the imagination. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316341684 When the fabled city of Weep recruits the kingdom of Zosma's best minds for an undefined problem, lowly librarian Lazlo finagles a spot on the delegation. Meanwhile, "godspawn" Sarai has lived in a forified citadel over Weep ever since the gods were slaughtered for sexual violence. Taylor has spun another mesmerizing tale with captivating twists, intriguing characters, beautiful language, and baroque flourishes of the imagination. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A young man and woman dream amid violence's aftermath in this intense series opener.Twenty-year-old orphaned librarian Lazlo Strange, whose brutish exterior conceals his cleverness, dreams of stories of a lost city. Two hundred years ago, six merciless, magic-wielding Mesarthim landed their seraphim-shaped citadel in the legendary city, blocking its skies and cutting it off from the outside world. Fifteen years ago, the Godslayer Eril-Fane ended their reign of terror with the Carnage, and now the city is known only as Weep. Seeking to restore the skies to Weep, reluctant leader Eril-Fane recruits scientists from the world beyond Weepand bemusedly welcomes Lazloto move the allegedly abandoned citadel. But the long-silent structure instead holds five surviving godspawn, gifted offspring of captured humans and cruel gods, equally traumatized by the massacre. Red-haired, blue-skinned 17-year-old Sarai is a dreamer like Lazlo but fears nightmares even as she inflicts them on the citizens below. Besides literal ghosts, Weep is also haunted by losslost memories, lost history, and lost half-blood children. Taylor's lengthy, mesmerizing epic offers an exotic Middle Eastern-esque world with invented words, biology, and mythology, populated by near-humans and strange creatures. The plot (endlessly dilated by dream sequences) is split between the lovers and then again among other narrators, rendered in delirious and sensuous, if repetitive, language. Weep becomes a laboratory in which Taylor examines slavery, trauma, memory, and appropriation, ending this first installment with a cliffhanger that leaves readers wondering if healing is even remotely possible. Lovers of intricate worldbuilding and feverish romance will find this enthralling. (Fantasy. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
The Hate U Give
Book Jacket   Thomas, Angie
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062498533 African American sixteen-year-old Starr Carter lives a life caught between her rough, predominantly black neighborhood and the "proper," predominantly white prep school she attends. This precarious balance is broken when Starr witnesses the shooting of her (unarmed) childhood friend Khalil by a police officer. Debut author Thomas is adept at capturing the voices of multiple characters in her powerful, in-your-face novel. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062498533 African American sixteen-year-old Starr Carter lives a life caught between her rough, predominantly black neighborhood and the "proper," predominantly white prep school she attends. This precarious balance is broken when Starr witnesses the shooting of her (unarmed) childhood friend Khalil by a police officer. Debut author Thomas is adept at capturing the voices of multiple characters in her powerful, in-your-face novel. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2018
Piecing Me Together
Book Jacket   Watson, Renee
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Sixteen-year-old Jade dreams of success beyond her neighborhood despite the prejudices that surround her For two years, Jade has been a scholarship student at a predominantly white private high school where she is one of few African-American studentsthe only one from her "bad" neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Jade's mom struggles to make ends meet. At school, Jade has many opportunities, steppingstones to move beyond her neighborhood someday, maybe even travel the world. But sometimes these opportunities and her white guidance counselor make Jade feel like a charity case. Junior year brings yet another opportunity that leaves Jade feeling judged and pitied: the Woman to Woman mentorship program, which promises a full college scholarship to mentees. Jade's mentor, Maxine, is both well-intentioned and also black, but she's from a wealthy family. Jade chafes against the way Maxine treats her as though she needs to be saved. Through Jade's insightful and fresh narration, Watson presents a powerful story that challenges stereotypes about girls with "coal skin and hula-hoop hips" who must contend with the realities of racial profiling and police brutality. Jade's passion for collage and photography help her to find her voice and advocate not only for herself, but for her community. A timely, nuanced, and unforgettable story about the power of art, community, and friendship. (Fiction. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2018
Eliza and Her Monsters
 Zappia, Francesca
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Creator of an astonishingly successful webcomicor a nonentity of a high school senior?Eliza Mirk is an anxiety-plagued weirdo, shuffling silently through the corridors of her Indiana high school without a single friend. She's also beloved LadyConstellation, creator of the comic Monstrous Sea, "a combination of the Final Fantasy video games and the Faust Legend." On the Monstrous Sea forums, she's the queen to millions of passionate fans; in school she's "Creepy Don't-Touch-Her-You'll-Get-Rabies Eliza." Eliza's parents, athletes with no understanding of the internet age, mishandle their belovedbut frighteningly bafflingdaughter. Though terrified by human interaction, Eliza finds her voice long enough to defend a new student who's being mocked for writing Monstrous Sea fanfiction. Wallace and Eliza develop an intense, if unusual, friendship: Wallace's selective mutism means the majority of their conversations are carried on in writing. Eliza, meanwhile, wonders if she can reveal her online identity to Wallace, one of the most well-known fans of Monstrous Sea, without destroying his feelings for her. The deepening relationship of these two white teens, interspersed with pages from the comic and Wallace's fanfiction prose retelling of it, exposes the raw, self-absorbed pain of mental illness amid the helplessness many high schoolers experience. A wrenching depiction of depression and anxiety, respectful to fandom, online-only friendships, and the benefits and dangers of internet fame. (Fiction. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062290137 Socially inept high-school senior Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of a super-popular fantasy webcomic. New kid Wallace is a fan. The two begin a tentative friendship, and soon they're more than friends. Eliza agonizes over how to confess that she's not just a fellow fan but actually the comic's creator. Interspersed with Eliza's often funny first-person narrative are chat logs, text messages, art, and snippets of Wallace's prose. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2018
Goodbye Days
 Zentner, Jeff
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780553524062 Seventeen-year-old Carver believes his text message confirms his culpability in the devastating car wreck that killed his three best friends. Looking for an outlet, Carver shares a "goodbye day" with Blake's grandmother and soon does the same with Eli's and Mars's families as well. Zentner skillfully depicts his protagonist's inner turmoil and the beginnings of his recovery in a frequently raw narrative. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780553524062 Seventeen-year-old Carver believes his text message confirms his culpability in the devastating car wreck that killed his three best friends. Looking for an outlet, Carver shares a "goodbye day" with Blake's grandmother and soon does the same with Eli's and Mars's families as well. Zentner skillfully depicts his protagonist's inner turmoil and the beginnings of his recovery in a frequently raw narrative. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
The Passion of Dolssa
Book Jacket   Berry, Julie
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780451469922 A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
The Reader G.P. Putnams Sons Books for Young Readers
Book Jacket   Chee, Traci
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399176777 Sefia, in possession of a strange object called a "book," learns that writing and reading are the keys to powerful magic. Interspersed and eventually converging with Sefia's story are episodic tales of Captain Reed and his pirate crew. This complex series-opener introduces a richly built fantasy world and a courageous female protagonist. A coded message to readers and visual effects amplify the metafictional elements. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
The Lie Tree.
 Hardinge, Frances
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781419718953 Everything in this audacious novel is on the cusp or in limbo, setting up delicious tensions and thematic riches. The time is nineteenth-century England; the setting is a fictional island; the main character is a fourteen-year-old girl caught between society's expectations and her fierce desire to be a scientist. Hardinge maintains masterful control of the whole complex construct. A stunner. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
The Female of the Species.
 McGinnis, Mindy
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062320896 Alex always felt rage. But when her older sister was raped and murdered, she acted on it--so brilliantly she got away with her crime. Now a senior, solitary Alex befriends preacher's daughter "Peekay" and falls for popular Jack; the three small-town teens' fates intertwine dangerously. With hard partying, sexual violence, and a razor-sharp voice, this novel is provocative but eminently captivating and thought-provoking. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
Burn Baby Burn.
Book Jacket   Medina, Meg
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763674670 In this vividly evoked coming-of-age story set in 1977 NYC during the oppressive heat wave, seventeen-year-old Nora Lspez faces an insecure future after graduation. The very real fear of an at-large serial killer is magnified by violence at home, and Nora's mother barely scrapes by. Nora is an empathetic character; Medina depicts her troubled family and their diverse Queens neighborhood with realistic, everyday detail. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A Cuban-American girl comes of age in Flushing, Queens, in 1977, against the backdrop of the Son of Sam murder spree. It's the summer after graduation, and Nora Lpez and her family struggle to make ends meet. She works part time at a local deli, but her mom has her hours cut at the local factory where she works. Her ne'er-do-well brother, Hector, has stopped going to school and instead spends his time doped up selling drugs on the street. Readers can sense the danger growing around him with every menacing flick of his Zippo. Things change, however, when Pablo, a new guy in town, shows up at the deli where Nora works. Their romance makes the summer even hotter even as a serial killer stalks the neighborhoods of Queens, picking off teen girls and their dates in the middle of the night. Rooted firmly in historical events, Medina's latest offers up a uniquely authentic slice-of-life experience set against a hazy, hot, and dangerous NYC backdrop. Rocky and Donna Summer and the thumping beats of disco, as well as other references from the time, capture the era, while break-ins, fires, shootings, and the infamous blackout bring a harrowing sense of danger and intensity. The story arc is simple, however: a teen girl, her family, her best friend, and her new boyfriend live through a summer of danger. An important story of one of New York City's most dangerous times. (Historical fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
Salt to the Sea.
Book Jacket   Sepetys, Ruta
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens' lives converge in hopes of escape. Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voicesLithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfredwith often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany's role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn't change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning. Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author's note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399160301 The stories of four young adults converge in this illumination of a little-known WWII tragedy. As Russian soldiers push Nazi forces back, Eastern European refugees flee toward the hope of evacuation by sea on the Wilhelm Gustloff, a vessel destined to sink. This elegiac tale succeeds with impressive research, affecting characters, and keen insights into humans' counterposed tendencies toward evil and nobility. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
Scythe.
 Shusterman, Neal
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442472426 With new technology, mortality is a thing of the past, except "scythes" are responsible for "gleaning" to restrict population growth. Citra and Rowan are selected as scythe apprentices; neither wants the role. Then a radical scythe, who does enjoy killing, insists that the winner of a contest glean the losing apprentice. A philosophical exploration of life and death packaged as a high-action adventure. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes journal entries accompany Rowans and Citras dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racismmultiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than puritybut also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shustermans dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions. A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
The Sun is Also a Star.
 Yoon, Nicola
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780553496680 Natasha, an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica facing immediate deportation, believes in science and rationality. Daniel, burdened with his Korean-immigrant parents' expectations, believes in destiny and poetry. When their paths cross unexpectedly, and repeatedly, over one day, Daniel is convinced he's going to fall in love. In a twelve-hour race against the clock, the teens' alternating first-person narratives are fresh and compelling. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniels a poet who believes in love, something that cant be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natashas understandably distractedand doesnt want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, the feeling when you meet someone that youre going to fall in love with them. The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Danielsure theyre meant to beis determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her familys deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoons lush prose chronicles an authentic romance thats also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate. With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
The Serpent King
Book Jacket   Zentner, Jeff
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A touching debut chronicles the coming-of-age of three high school seniors, misfits and best friends. Neither Dill, Travis, nor Lydia feels at home in Forrestville, a small Tennessee town named after the founder of the Klu Klux Klan. Lydia's loving, prosperous parents have given her the tools to create a popular blog and the glittering prospect of college life in New York City. Travis, on the other hand, escapes his father's drunken brutality and his own heartbreak over his soldier brother's death by retreating into a fictional fantasy world. And Dillard Early Jr. can't escape his name: his snake-handling preacher father became notorious in these parts when he was incarcerated for child porn. SomeDill's mother among themblame Dill for his father's conviction. Lydia is determined to realize her dreams, and she is equally determined that the boys dream, too. Dill just wants Lydia to stay. Writing in third-person chapters that alternate among the three characters, Zentner covers the whole of their senior year, with heartbreak and a hopeful conclusion. Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel's strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and gracea new voice to savor. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Book Jacket   Becky Albertalli
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062348678 Sixteen-year-old Simon loves emailing Blue, an anonymous boy from school. But when another student sees the correspondence, the blossoming romance is threatened. Set in Georgia, this realistic coming-out story features a cast of unique, believable characters. Simon's humorous narrative alternates with his emails with Blue as Simon wonders, "Don't you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A gay teen comes out to friends, family and classmates after his secret correspondence with another boy is discovered.Ever since he discovered a post about being gay on his school's unofficial Tumblr, Simon has been corresponding with its author, an anonymous gay classmate who calls himself Blue. Their conversations, which readers see interspersed with prose chapters written from Simon's point of view, are heartfelt, emotionally intimate and increasingly flirtatiousenabled, perhaps, by the fact that neither boy knows the other's identity. Simon is impulsive, full of heart and not always as careful as he should be. When he leaves himself logged into Gmail at the school library, a boy named Martin reads Simon's emails with Blue and uses the threat of outing Simon to insinuate himself into a relationship with one of Simon's female friends. Simon's social landscape is carefully and seemingly effortlessly drawn. Through light and often humorous detail, readers see clearly not only each individual character, but also the complex set of group dynamics at play in Simon's loving family and circle of friends. While Simon is focused on Blue, other characters go on journeys of their own, and the author is careful not only to wrap up Simon's story, but to draw attention to the stories the romance plot might overshadow in lesser hands. Funny, moving and emotionally wise. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Six of Crows
 Leigh Bardugo
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age. The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist30 million kruge!Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It's a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2. Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family. (Fantasy. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781627792127 In Ketterdam (in the same fantasy universe as Bardugo's Grisha trilogy), thief lord Kaz assembles a team to retrieve scientist Bo Yul-Bayur, who faces death for inventing a drug that illegally intensifies magical abilities; once the heist starts, nothing goes according to plan. Starting with a robust plot structure, Bardugo kicks up the action with dilemmas tailor-made for each of her characters. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
The Bunker Diary
 Kevin Brooks
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781467754200 In a fictitious diary, sixteen-year-old English runaway Linus tells of his kidnapping and imprisonment in an underground bunker where he, along with five other captives that gradually fill the other cells, endures evil punishments. Gripping, terrifying, and full of abominable actions, this provocative Carnegie Medalwinning novel is not for the faint-hearted, but thrill-seekers and horror enthusiasts will find the sharply written narrative compelling. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Knocked unconscious and kidnapped, 16-year-old Linus wakes alone in a small, windowless, concrete building. The only way in or out is a lift that comes, empty, twice a day. With no food and no contact with his captor, Linus begins a journal. On the third day, a 9-year-old girl named Jenny appears, and food is finally delivered. Over several days, four more captives arrive, all adults, including a big, burly junkie, an uptight young businesswoman and a middle-aged businessman. Last to arrive is Russell, a famous philosopher who's dying of a brain tumor. In a setting reminiscent of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, this suspenseful, riveting winner of the 2014 Carnegie Medal explores existentialism through the different stages of life embodied by the six characters. Jenny wonders what they're being punished for and why their captor is so bad. Linus wonders why they are there and what their captor wants. He notices that the clocks are being manipulated and ponders what past, present and future mean when you're captive and dependent on an all-powerful "Man Upstairs" for life's essentials. Wise Russell, the only character of color, calmly works out where they must be and helps the others see the humanity in themselves and each other. Brooks' latest is not an easy novel, but it's one that begs for rereading to suss the intricacies of its construction of plot, character development and insight into the human condition. Not for everyone, this heady novel is worthy of study alongside existentialist works of the 20th century. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Audacity
Book Jacket   Melanie Crowder
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399168994 This gripping historical verse novel is based on the life of Clara Lemlich, a Russian Jewish immigrant who worked tirelessly to help unionize and establish rights for fellow young women factory employees in the early twentieth century. Clara's driven and emotional voice radiates strength amid her doubts, fears, conflicts, and conviction to create a more equal world for women. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A novel in verse featuring the real-life Clara Lemlich, a courageous, tenacious warrior for workers' rights in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City.Newly arrived in New York from Russia, she finds employment in a sweatshop, where young immigrant girls toil in dangerous conditions, cheated and harassed by bosses, earning pennies for long hours of work. Sacrificing her dream of an education and in spite of her family's dire economic straits, she devotes her energy to supporting these girls, fighting for the inclusion of women in the all-male garment union and winning them their own local. She organizes strikes against individual sweatshops and leads the Uprising of the 20,000, during which she and the other young women strikers are repeatedly beaten by police and hired thugs, arrested and jailed. From her constricted life in a Russian shtetl and difficult journey to America to the choices she makes in her new life, readers hear Clara's strong, clear voice in action-packed verses that convey with intense emotion her conflicts and conviction, her deepest thoughts, and her doubts and triumphs. Crowder breathes life into a world long past and provides insight into the achievements of one determined woman who knows she will "give / without the thought / of ever getting back, / to ease the suffering of others. / That, / I think, / I will be doing / the rest of my life." Compelling, powerful and unforgettable. (historical note, interview, glossary, sources) (Historical fiction/poetry. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Shadowshaper
Book Jacket   Daniel Jose Older
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780545591614 When her grandpa Lazaro--bedridden and primarily mute because of a stroke--blurts out an incomprehensible warning, artist Sierra is plunged into a completely different New York: one with the reanimated dead, spirits, and shadowshapers. Sierra's Puerto Rican family, lively Brooklyn neighborhood, and Haitian (possible) love interest make for a vibrant and uncommon, diversely populated fantasy that speaks to the urban teen experience. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. When walking corpsesand worseshow up in the city, a teen discovers family secrets and ancestral powers.Sierra's summer plan is to paint an enormous mural on an abandoned, unfinished five-story building. On an older mural nearby, unnervingly, a painted face changes expression and weeps a tear that glistens and drops. Grandpa Lzaro, mostly speechless from a stroke, grasps a lucid moment to warn Sierra, "They are coming for us.the shadowshapers." Abuelo can't or won't explain further, and Sierra has no idea what shadowshapers are. Her regular world explodes into a "mystical Brooklyn labyrinth" shimmering with beauty but deadly dangerous. Walking corpses with icy grips and foul smells chase her, and a throng hainta shadowy phantom with mouths all overalmost kills her. In Bed-Stuy, Prospect Park, and Coney Island in the middle of the night, Sierra fights to stay alive and to decipher her role in this chaos. This story about ancestors, ghosts, power, and community has art and music at its core; Sierra's drawing and painting turn out to be tools for spirit work. Sierra's Puerto Rican with African and Tano ancestors; her community is black and brown, young and old, Latin and Caribbean and American. Sometimes funny and sometimes striking, Older's comfortable prose seamlessly blends English and Spanish. Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamica must. (Urban fantasy. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
The Boy in the Black Suit
 Jason Reynolds
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442459502 High-school senior Matt has a job at Mr. Ray's funeral home, but he's also in mourning, for his mother who died and his long-on-the-wagon father who's returned to drink. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn't. Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a warm and empathetic way that the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. With his mother newly dead, a job in a funeral home somehow becomes the perfect way for Matthew to deal with his crushing grief. Initially skeptical, he plans to use his early-release senior year program to work at a fried-chicken joint that's staffed by an entrancing girl with whom he eventually develops a gentle, tenderly depicted relationship. But the funerals intrigue him and then become deeply satisfying; Matthew finds solace in seeing others experiencing his pain. Matthew's neighbor, Mr. Ray, the funeral director with a sad back story, becomes almost a surrogate father when Matthew's dad gets drunk and then has an accident. Matthew's voice is authentic and perceptive as he navigates the initial months without his mom; he's supported by a believable cast of fully fleshed-out characters. Occasionally, his language waxes poetic, as when he describes the sights and sounds of Brooklyn: "our cement world of trash cans blown into the street, stray cats begging, stoop sitters dressed in fresh sneakers smoking blunts in broad daylight, old ladies sweeping the sidewalk, tired nine-to-fivers walking slowly on the final stretch before home." Reynolds writes with a gritty realism that beautifully captures the challengesand rewardsof growing up in the inner city. A vivid, satisfying and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption and grace. (Fiction. 11-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
Bone Gap
 Laura Ruby
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A teenage boy wrestles against forces real and imagined in a small, rural town named Bone Gap. Finn was the only one to witness the kidnapping of brother Sean's beautiful girlfriend, Roza, at the spring festival. But when he looks at mug shots, all the faces look frustratingly similar. Meanwhile, a tall man with eyes like ice who demands her love traps Roza in an ever changing netherworld. But Roza is determined to find her way back to Sean and Finn's backyard, no matter what the cost. Told from the viewpoints of multiple Bone Gap citizens, this inventive modern fable whimsically combines elements of folklore, mythology, romance and feminism. Finn starts out as a daydreaming cipher, but when he discovers he has a condition called "face blindness," his vague character comes into sharp focus, and his mission to battle the tall man becomes clear. Both Roza and Finn's love interest, Priscilla, develop over the course of the magically real journey into strong women to be reckoned with, while the secondary characters, including a sassy beekeeper, wise chicken farmer and self-aware horse, are charming and memorable. And if the transitions between reality and fantasy are a little rocky and the worldbuilding occasionally a little thin, it can be forgiven due to the sheer ambition of the refreshingly original plot. Cleverly conceived and lusciously written. (Fantasy. 13 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062317605 Roza has disappeared; Finn alleges that she was kidnapped, but he cannot offer up a useful description of the abductor. The kidnapped-young-women trope isn't new, but such books often read like mysteries or thrillers, while this one reads more like a fable, with the matter-of-fact inclusion of magical realism. Readers will be left pondering the strange events, quirky characters, and resonant themes. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
X: A Novel
Book Jacket   Ilyasah Shabazz
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763669676 Shabazz, Malcolm X's third daughter, and YA author Magoon present a vivid, immediate fictionalized portrait of the civil rights activist. Readers are immersed in young Malcolm's world, from his tragic Depression-era childhood; through his teen years in Boston and Harlem, imprisonment for larceny, and growing awareness of racism's impact; ending with his conversion to Islam in his mid-twenties. A powerful, compelling work of historical fiction. Reading list. Bib. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Teaming with veteran Magoon, the third daughter of Malcolm X draws upon history and family stories to create a novel about her father's life before the "X." Malcolm Little grew up in Lansing, Michigan, during the Great Depression. Though times were hard, Malcolm felt that "when Papa was alive, I believed that I was special." But Papa was murdered, his mother entered a mental institution, and the broken family was scattered among foster homes. The unusual but effective chronology of this completely absorbing novel finds Malcolm frequently looking back from 1945 Harlem to specific years in Lansing, trying to make sense of the segregation he faced, a teacher's dismissal of him as "just a nigger" and his father's legacy. Boston was meant to be a fresh start, but Malcolm soon became "a creature of the street," and the authors' evocation of the street hustler's life is richly gritty indeed. Of course the street catches up to him, and ironically, it's in prison where he begins to remake himself. He becomes a reader, corresponds with Elijah Muhammad and, on the final page, signs a letter to Elijah Muhammad as Malcolm X. The author's note carries Malcolm's story further and discusses the significance of his voice in American history. Readers for whom pre-civil rights America is ancient history will find this poetic interpretation eye-opening and riveting. (notes about characters, timeline, family tree, historical context, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763669676 Shabazz, Malcolm X's third daughter, and YA author Magoon present a vivid, immediate fictionalized portrait of the civil rights activist. Readers are immersed in young Malcolm's world, from his tragic Depression-era childhood; through his teen years in Boston and Harlem, imprisonment for larceny, and growing awareness of racism's impact; ending with his conversion to Islam in his mid-twenties. A powerful, compelling work of historical fiction. Reading list. Bib. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Challenger Deep
Book Jacket   Neal Shusterman
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061134111 The surreal fantasies of fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch commingle with more comprehensible accounts of family and school, until his parents have him admitted to a psychiatric ward. The disorientation Shusterman evokes through the first-person narration is an apt, effective way to bring readers into nightmarish anxiety and despair--and out of it. The novel is moving, but it's also funny, with dry, insightful humor. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Fantasy becomes reality in an exploration of mental illness based partly on the experiences of the author's son, who is also the book's illustrator. For 14-year-old Caden Bosch, his gradual descent into schizophrenia is a quest to reach the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth. In an internal reality that's superimposed over Caden's real lifewhere his behavior slips from anxiety to hearing voices and compulsively obeying signagean Ahab-like captain promises riches in exchange for allegiance, while his parrot urges mutiny for a chance at life ashore. Shusterman unmoors readers with his constant use of present tense and lack of transitions, but Caden's nautical hallucination-turned-subplot becomes clearer once his parents commit him to Seaview Hospital's psychiatric unit with its idiosyncratic crew of patients and staff. However, Caden's disorientation and others' unease also make the story chillingly real. Except in the heights of Caden's delusions, nothing is romanticizedjust off-kilter enough to show how easily unreality acquires its own logic and wit. The illustrator, who has struggled with mental illness himself, charts the journey with abstract line drawings that convey Caden's illness as well as his insight. When the depths are revealed with a dream-logic twist and Caden chooses an allegiance, the sea becomes a fine metaphor for a mind: amorphous and tumultuous but ultimately navigable. An adventure in perspective as well as plot, this unusual foray into schizophrenia should leave readers with a deeper understanding of the condition. (author's note) (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2016
More Happy Than Not
 Adam Silvera
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In a Bronx neighborhood of the near future, it's no secret that at least one person has taken advantage of the Leteo Institute's new medical procedure that promises "cutting-edge memory-relief." Reeling from his discovery of his father in a blood-filled bathtub, there are lots of things that Aaron Soto would like to forgetthe smile-shaped scar on his own wrist attests to that. Puerto Rican Aaron meets a boy named Thomas from a neighboring (and sometimes rival) project who shares his love of comic books and fantasy fiction. The two develop a friendship that makes Aaron wonder if he's a "dude-liker," leading to a breakup with his girlfriend. When Thomas doesn't reciprocate, Aaron considers the Leteo procedure for himself. This novel places a straightforward conceptwhat if you could erase unwanted memories?squarely within an honest depiction of the pains of navigating the teen years and upends all expectations for a plot resolution. Debut author Silvera has an ear for dialogue and authentic voices. He scatters references to his characters' various ethnicities in an unforced mannerof a midnight showing of a movie based on their favorite fantasy series, Thomas says "I was the only brown Scorpius Hawthorne." Thomas is the foil to Aaron's conviction that there's an easy way out in a multifaceted look at some of the more unsettling aspects of human relationships. A brilliantly conceived page-turner. (Speculative fiction. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781616955601 Aaron Soto would love to forget many things: his father's suicide, his burgeoning but unrequited feelings for new friend Thomas, the casual violence he faces on a regular basis. With cutting-edge Leteo technology, he can. Speculative twists to an otherwise realistic coming-out story add allegorical undertones and narrative unreliability to this meditation on identity, memory, class, and consequences. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
The Carnival at Bray
 by Jessie Ann Foley
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In 1993, 16 year-old Maggie and her family move from Chicago to small-town Ireland with the latest of her mother's romantic partners. Moving to Bray, Maggie leaves behind warm, practical Nanny Ei and beloved Uncle Kevin, a 26-year-old who plays in a band, sneaks her into grunge rock concerts and makes himself responsible for Maggie's musical education. Arriving in Ireland, Maggie finds that she's no better at fitting in with the girls of St. Brigid's than she had been at her old school. Instead, she forms a loose web of connections with local figures: Dan Sean, a Bray legend at 99, whose home becomes a refuge for Maggie in times of family conflict; Ane, the bookish classmate with whom Maggie reluctantly goes on double dates; and Eoin, the gentle boy with whom Maggie falls in love. The narrative subtly and carefully interweaves peer and family dramamuch of it involving troubled Uncle Kevinwith the highs and lows of the grunge music scene, from the transformative glory of a Nirvana concert to the outpouring of grief around the death of Kurt Cobain. Every character, every place comes alive with crisp, precise detail: Maggie's heartbroken mother "howling along in an off-key soprano" to Joni Mitchell's Blue, Dan Sean welcoming Maggie with a Cossack's hat and a hefty glass of port. Powerfully evocative. (Historical fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
The crossover
Book Jacket   by Kwame Alexander
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives. Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story. Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780544107717 Twelve-year-old twins Josh and Jordan (JB) are a well-oiled machine on the basketball court. But then JB gets a girlfriend, and before Josh knows it, things start to change. Josh's narration is a combination of exciting play-by-play game details, insightful observations on middle school, and poignant meditations on sibling dynamics and familial love. This verse novel has massive appeal for reluctant readers. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
The gospel of winter : a novel
Book Jacket   by Brendan Kiely
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442484894 Sixteen-year-old Aidan, lonely and suffering in the wake of his parents' breakup, turns to drugs and booze. He also confides in his Catholic church's priest--but soon discovers Father Greg's dark intentions. This bleak debut novel ambitiously addresses many contemporary issues, but its realistic, gut-wrenching depiction of priest sexual abuse in particular hits the mark. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
Ill give you the sun
 by Jandy Nelson
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Twins Noah and Jude used to be NoahandJudeinseparable till betrayal and tragedy ripped them apart.Nelson tells her tale of grief and healing in separate storylines, one that takes place before their art-historian mother's fatal car accident and one that takes place after, allowing readers and twins to slowly understand all that's happened. An immensely talented painter, Noah is 13 1/2 in his thread, when Brian moves in next door to their coastal Northern California home. His intense attraction to Brian is first love at its most consuming. Jude is 16 in hers, observing a "boy boycott" since their mother's death two years earlier; she is also a sculpture student at the California School of the Artswhich, inexplicably, Noah did not get into. Haunted by both her mother and her grandmother, she turns to an eccentric sculptor for mentoring and meets his protg, a dangerously charismatic British college student. The novel is structurally brilliant, moving back and forth across timelines to reveal each teen's respective exhilaration and anguish but holding the ultimate revelations back until just the right time. Similarly, Nelson's prose scintillates: Noah's narration is dizzyingly visual, conjuring the surreal images that make up his "invisible museum"; Jude's is visceral, conveying her emotions with startling physicality. So successful are these elements that the overdetermined, even trite conclusion will probably strike readers as a minor bump in the road. Here's a narrative experience readers won't soon forget. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803734968 Jude (a girl) and Noah are fraternal twins; once very close, they now hardly speak to each other. The reasons for their estrangement gradually come to light over the course of the novel through the twins' alternating voices from different points in time (Noah at thirteen, bullied for being gay; and sixteen-year-old artist Jude). A compelling meditation on love, grief, sexuality, family, and fate. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
Noggin
 John Corey Whaley
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442458727 Losing his battle to terminal cancer, sixteen-year-old Travis opts to have his head stored cryogenically, until some point in the future when medical technology is able to attach it to a new body. That day comes just five years later, but much has changed. Readers will find it easy to become invested in Travis's second coming-of-age--brimming with humor, pathos, and angst. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The madcap story of a boy who loses his head and finds it again. In the not-too-distant future, 16-year-old Travis Coates loses his head onceliterallyafter a deadly bout with cancer left him for dead. His head, cryogenically frozen as part of an experimental process to bring cancer victims back to life using donors, is the only thing that's left of him until he wakes up with it attached to the body of Jeremy Pratt in the Saranson Center for Life Preservation five years later. From there on out, Travis' life gets just as crazy as Whaley's bizarre setup. Lots of changes have taken place in five years, and Travis soon finds himself losing his head again, in the figurative sense. He has to drag his best friend back out of the closet, discovers terrible secrets about his parents, and pursues his old girlfriend, who is now 21 and engaged to another, great guy, to readers' cringe-inducing embarrassment on his behalf. Readers will recognize the Printz winner's trademark lovable characterizations in Travis' newfound BFF Hatton, who dubs him "Noggin" on his first day back at school. They'll also recognize the poignantly rendered reflections on life, love, death and everything in between. Weird? Yes. Great? Not quite, but it's pretty solid. It may be convoluted as hell, but Whaley's signature cadence and mad storytelling skillz are worth every page. A satisfyingly oddball Frankenstein-like tale of connectivity. (Fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Jackaby
Book Jacket   R William Ritter
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781616203535 In 1892 New Fiddleham, America, newly arrived young Englishwoman Abigail Rook crosses paths with the remarkable Mr. R. F. Jackaby. Jackaby is a detective, but his perceptive observations are of the paranormal variety, and Abigail jumps at the chance to work for him. Ritter's debut is a riveting mash-up of mystery and folklore, with vivid details and striking turns of phrase. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A Sherlock Holmesstyle adventure featuring the egotistical and eccentric R.F. Jackaby and his bewildered but invaluable assistant, Abigail Rook. Inspired by her fathers paleontological expeditions and frustrated by her mothers expectations of femininity, Abigail arrives in the New England city of New Fiddleham with a suitcase of inappropriate attire and a need for money. She finds employment with the oddball supernatural investigator Jackaby, whose previous assistants have met unfortunate or fowl ends (literally). Aiding Jackaby, flirting with the secretive Detective Charlie Cane, and trying to avoid the wrath of Chief Inspector Marlowe and Commissioner Swift, Abigail discovers that the world is stranger and more dangerous than she ever imagined. Although Abigail is not a seer like Jackaby, able to pierce the glamour of New Fiddlehams fairy-tale and folklore inhabitants, she learns that to see the ordinary is extraordinary indeed. Abigails attention to the everyday serves as a foil to Jackabys paranormal perception and makes her a refreshingly realistic and agreeable heroine. Secondary charactersincluding Jackabys houseare equally enchanting and well-drawn. Ritters debut skillfully blends science with the supernatural and balances whimsy with violence. The smartly paced plot wraps up neatly, but the rich world of this debut demands sequels. A magical mystery tour de force with a high body count and a list of unusual suspects. (Paranormal. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
The story of Owen : dragon slayer of Trondheim
Book Jacket   E K Johnston
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In an alternate world where humans and dragons battle over fossil fuels, the tale of one slayer and his bard becomes a celebration of friendship, family, community and calling. Once, every village had its own dragon slayer, but those days are long gone; now, slayers are drafted by governments or sponsored by corporations. Sixteen-year-old Owen Thorskard, scion of a renowned line, wants to help reverse thatstarting with the rural Canadian town of Trondheim. While Owen is brave, dedicated and likable, this story really belongs to Siobhan McQuaid, dauntless bard-in-training. In her witty account, Siobhan learns alongside Owen from his heroic aunt and her blacksmith wife, schemes with classmates to create local Dragon Guards and enlists the entire county in a daring scheme to attack the dragons' own turf. Humor, pathos and wry social commentary unite in a cleverly drawn, marvelously diverse world. Refreshingly, the focus is on the pair as friends and partners, not on potential romance; Siobhan places as much emphasis on supporting her allies as extolling Owen's deeds. Smart enough to both avoid unnecessary danger and be scared when appropriate, they prove all the more valiant when tragic sacrifices have to be made. It may "[take] a village to train a dragon slayer," but it takes an exceptional dragon slayer to deserve a villageand a storytellerlike this one. (Fantasy. 12-18)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781467710664 In this original fantasy, eleventh-grade budding composer Siobhan McQuaid is asked to be bard to dragon-slayer-in-training teen Owen. Johnston has great fun reimagining history in a dragon-filled world. Modern references live comfortably next to those from Viking sagas, often to comic effect. And the final confrontation, due to Siobhan's wry, heroic narration, is nothing short of epic. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
Vango : between sky and earth.
 by Timothee de Fombelle and Sarah Ardizzone
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763671969 We first meet Vango in the mid-1930s, lying face-down in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Within moments, police pursue him, a killer shoots at him, and he flees like a bird. In effect, de Fombelle's novel is one long chase scene, interspersed with flashbacks to Vango's childhood. WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the rise of fascism all come into play in this unusual and captivating book from France. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Minutes from joining the priesthood in 1934, Vango, who was found washed ashore on a tiny Italian island as a toddler, must suddenly avoid both arrest and a simultaneous assassination attempt. Establishing his innocence while on the run across Europe requires untangling his mysterious past. The story's got all the classic elements of swashbuckling adventure tales like The Count of Monte Cristoexcept pistols replace swords, and the villains include men who would become leaders of the Axis powers. Flashbacks to Vango's childhood demonstrate that his heroism is innatesuch as when, at 10, he drops from a cliff into a sinking boat to save a neighbor. But fate doesn't always reward valor, and de Fombelle notes that by saving his neighbor, the youngster "was embarking on a stormy life ahead." But Vango's gentleness and caring earn him loyalty (and potentially romance) from those who help him along his journey. These characters, like Vango, are inherently brave but also shaped by tragedy. Their courage is tested by war and their frustrating inability to counteract the growing power of the Nazi regime. Tension escalates when readers begin to suspect that Vango's story is more closely interwoven with the conflicts of World War II than either he or his supporters realize.Beautiful writing, intricate plotting, and breathless revealsplus several plucky female leadsmake this a must-read. (Historical fiction. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
And we stay
 Jenny Hubbard
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385740579 After her ex-boyfriend's suicide, sixteen-year-old Emily Beam is sent to an Amherst, Massachusetts, boarding school to start anew and heal. And through a friendship with her sympathetic roommate, connecting with local legend Emily Dickinson's work, and blossoming as a poet herself, she starts to. Hubbard thrives in both prose and verse storytelling: interspersed within emotionally astute third-person-omniscient narration are Emily's moving poems. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A strong, gentle, smart and powerful book about suicide's aftermath. Emily Beam is no goody-goody. She breaks the rules of the Amherst School for Girls--a boarding school in Massachusetts where her parents have placed her after her boyfriend Paul's suicide and her abortion--when she feels she needs to. But the rules are broken in the service of her agency. Emily is driven to write out her grief and horror (Paul shot himself in front of her in her former school's library) in private poems she models after her inspiration, Emily Dickinson (another one-time Amherst resident). Teasing out strands of the past and the present, Hubbard masterfully twines together a story of one girl's journey to self-identity. In past-tense flashbacks, readers learn the circumstances of Emily and Paul's relationship, while the poems Emily writes in her present-day environment infuse those same circumstances with newly realized perceptions. The narrative switches to present tense when it relates Emily's current life in boarding school, a fresh and unexplored world with emerging possibilities as well as potential pitfalls. The layered story evolves naturally as Emily's creative courage first unravels and then reassembles her understanding of what has happened to her and what part she has played. As graceful as a feather drifting down, this lyrical story delivers a deep journey of healing on a tragic theme. (Fiction. 14-18)]]]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2015
Young elites.
Book Jacket   by Marie Lu
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A new seriesfantasy, this timefrom the author of the best-selling Legend dystopia. Twelve years ago, the blood fever raged through Kenettra, killing all infected adults and leaving the surviving children marked with scars, patterned skin and unnaturally colored hair. Malfetto, the survivors are called, and everyone knows they are terrible luck. A few malfettos are rumored to have great and mystical powers, and these Young Elites are sought by the Inquisition even while the common people secretly cheer on their defiance against a cruel and ineffectual king. Adelina is a 16-year-old malfetto, tormented by her abusive father until her own Young Elite power reveals itself. Both the Inquisition and the Young Elites want to use her, but Adelina wants only to protect herself and her beloved sister. She's no heroic savior; Adelina's Young Elite strength is honed by a decade of abuse and torment that's turned her into a force motivated foremost by rage and terror. Shifting points of view reveal the forces that treat Adelina as a pawn in a game much larger than she can understand, driving her to an extremely unusual lead-in for Volume 2. In a gorgeously constructed world that somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy but with its own pantheon, geography and fauna, the multiethnic and multisexual Young Elites offer a cinematically perfect ensemble of gorgeous-but-unusual illusionists, animal speakers, fire summoners and wind callers. A must for fans of Kristin Cashore's Fire (2009) and other totally immersive fantasies. (Fantasy. 13 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
All the Truth That is in Me
Book Jacket   Julie Berry
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780670786152 Berry's novel is set in a claustrophobic village that seems to resemble an early American colonial settlement. Readers gradually learn "all the truth" from eighteen-year-old narrator Judith, who speaks directly (though only in her head) to her love, Lucas. Berry keeps readers on edge, tantalizing us with pieces of the puzzle right up until the gripping conclusion. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Eighteen-year-old Judith Finch gradually reveals the horror of her two-year disappearance in a stunning historical murder mystery and romance. One summer four years ago, Judith Finch and her friend Lottie Pratt disappeared. After two years, only Judith returned. Lottie's naked body was found in the river, and Judith stumbled back on her own, her appearance shocking the town--not just because she had returned, but that her tongue had been cut out, and she can't tell anyone what happened to her. Illiterate, maimed, cursed, doomed to be an outsider but always and forever in love with Lucas Whiting, Judith finds a way to tell her story, saying, "I don't believe in miracles, but if the need is great, a girl might make her own miracle," and as her story unfolds, all the truth that's in her is revealed. Set in what seems to be early-18th-century North America, the story is told through the voice inside Judith's head--simple and poetic, full of hurt and yearning, and almost always directed toward Lucas in a haunting, mute second person. Every now and then, a novel comes along with such an original voice that readers slow down to savor the poetic prose. This is such a story. A tale of uncommon elegance, power and originality. (Historical thriller. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Freakboy
 Kristin Elizabeth Clark
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A must-buy that showcases three teen voices in free verse as they experience just a few of the myriad ways people experience gender nonconformity. Brendan is a reluctant wrestler and a dutiful boyfriend. His social life is a minefield, his athlete friends casual with their homophobia. One dreadful day, the wrestling team all dresses as cheerleaders, just a joke--for everyone else. Vanessa is Brendan's girlfriend, a wrestler herself. The only girl on the boys' team, Vanessa defends herself against homophobia at school and a family who tell her, "No boy wants a rough girl." Her love for Brendan is a signpost that she's normal. Angel is an indomitable community college student who's seen her share of the crap life throws at queer kids: beaten and rejected by her father, almost killed by a john. She works at the Willows Teen LGBTQ Center, helping other teens, says she's "blessed to like me / the way I am," and is unbent even by the vandalism Brendan commits in a fit of internalized transphobia. In alternating and distinct sections, these three young adults navigate love, family and society. Angel's position at the LGBTQ center provides narrative justification for the occasional infodump. There are no simple answers, readers learn, but there will always be victories and good people. Though the verse doesn't always shine, it's varied, with concrete poems and duets keeping the voices lively. This gutsy, tripartite poem explores a wider variety of identities--cis-, trans-, genderqueer--than a simple transgender storyline, making it stand out. (Fiction. 12-17)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374324728 High school wrestler Brendan likes girls "too much, / and not in / the same / way / everyone / else / does." Brendan's story weaves together with his girlfriend Vanessa's and that of transgender woman Angel in three-part verse-harmony. Each individual has a unique personality all his or her own in this sincere, profound rendering of sexuality, queerness, and identity. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Better Nate than ever
 Tim Federle
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442446892 Dreaming of Broadway stardom, thirteen-year-old Nate Foster runs away from his dull Pennsylvania town to the Big Apple, and to a casting call for a new musical. Tailor-made for fans of Glee, Federle's debut novel combines humor with an insider's perspective on the theater, an enthusiastic portrait of New York, and a genuine affection for lovable misfit Nate. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A story of Broadway dreams tailor-made for the younger side of the Glee audience. Jankburg, Penn., has always been too small-town for 13-year-old Nate Foster's Broadway-sized dreams. Jocks and God rule in the Foster house, which is good news for Anthony, Nate's older brother, and bad news for a boy with a soft spot for jazz hands and show tunes. Thankfully, Nate's best friend, Libby, shares his love of the Great White Way. When Libby learns of an upcoming audition for a Broadway-musical version of E.T., it's too good an opportunity to pass up. With Libby as his cover, the two hatch a plan that will have Nate to New York and back with the role of Elliott firmly in hand before anyone even knows he's gone missing. Alas, things rarely go according to plan. Nate is a quirky and endearing leading man from the start, and anyone who has ever felt out of place will easily identify with him. It's a joy to watch him fall head over heels for a city that couldn't care less about him--in the best possible way. Unfortunately, the cartoonish cover art and a predominantly lighthearted beginning may mislead some readers. Federle's debut addresses--deftly--big and solemn issues in the second half of the novel, particularly with regard to family, sexuality and religion. Bravo, Nate! (Fiction. 8-13)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Far far away
Book Jacket   Tom McNeal
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. "Listen, if you will," whispers the ghost of Jacob Grimm to Jeremy Johnson Johnson and to the readers of this delightful, modern-day fairy tale. Jeremy has the rare ability to sense the spectral presence of those caught in the Zwischenraum between mortal life and the hereafter. Jacob Grimm has been a constant presence since Jeremy was 6, a stand-in for Jeremy's absent mother and his absent-minded father. Jacob takes his role as mentor and protector seriously, although his attempts to help Jeremy are not always successful. Jeremy's social standing is a little dubious--what teenager stands a chance with pretty girls when he spouts curses in German? But Ginger Boultinghouse falls for Jeremy after eating the village baker's enchanted Prince Cakes. The two get up to some pranks that lead them to one adventure after another. Things aren't what they seem in the village of Never Better, where kids have gone missing and evil is afoot. The tone of Jacob's narration captures the flavor of the Grimms' tales while blending humorously with Jeremy's ordinary, befuddled, teenage life. The boy and his spectral companion are a charming pair of storytellers with great mutual affection. Readers who love spotting allusions will appreciate this intelligent book's robust vocabulary, its inclusion of French, German and Swedish words, and the real scholarship behind it. (Fantasy. 11-15)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375849725 Jeremy Johnson Johnson can hear ghosts, and that's how Jacob Grimm, the story's narrator, becomes Jeremy's mentor and guardian. Sprightly, assured, and original, this story blends a small-town, middle-American, twentieth-century setting with the Grimm brothers' realms--to compelling and sometime chilling effect. The presence of a malevolent villain gives the story a shiver of horror as dark as any of the Grimm tales. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Eleanor and Park
Book Jacket   Rainbow Rowell
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Awkward, prickly teens find deep first love in 1980s Omaha. Eleanor and Park don't meet cute; they meet vexed on the school bus, trapped into sitting together by a dearth of seats and their low social status. Park, the only half-Korean fan of punk and New Wave at their high school, is by no means popular, but he benefits from his family's deep roots in their lower-middle-class neighborhood. Meanwhile, Eleanor's wildly curly red mane and plus-sized frame would make her stand out even if she weren't a new student, having just returned to her family after a year of couch-surfing following being thrown out by her odious drunkard of a stepfather, Richie. Although both teens want only to fade into the background, both stand out physically and sartorially, arming themselves with band T-shirts (Park) and menswear from thrift stores (Eleanor). Despite Eleanor's resolve not to grow attached to anything, and despite their shared hatred for clichs, they fall, by degrees, in love. Through Eleanor and Park's alternating voices, readers glimpse the swoon-inducing, often hilarious aspects of first love, as well as the contrast between Eleanor's survival of grim, abuse-plagued poverty and Park's own imperfect but loving family life. Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike. (Fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250012579 It's the start of a new school year in 1986 Omaha when sophomores Eleanor and Park meet on the bus. She's an ostracized "big girl"; he's a skinny half-Korean townie who tries to stay out of the spotlight. Their slowly evolving relationship is life-changing for them both. Rowell imbues the novel with rich character development for a heart-wrenching portrayal of imperfect but unforgettable love (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Midwinterblood
 Marcus Sedgwick
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781596438002 Sedgwick takes us backwards through time in seven short stories set on a remote island. Each begins with love and ends with death--of young lovers, parents and children, or brothers and sisters. It's only in reading through all seven that we begin to understand the ritual that brings bloody death and forbidden love to "Blessed Island." Sedgwick's prose is taut, careful, and chilling. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The Time Traveler's Wife meets Lost in this chilling exploration of love and memory. A dystopian start to the novel finds journalist Eric on remote Blessed Island in the extreme north in the year 2073. Tasked with gathering information on a rare orchid that is rumored to stop the aging process, he feels instant attraction to native islander Merle. As Eric drinks a strange tea brewed from the orchid, he begins to forget his life on the mainland yet remembers feelings for Merle. But how and when did he know her? Seven linked stories progress backward across centuries, following Eric and Merle's relationship as it takes on many forms, such as father/daughter or brother/sister, throughout time. Presented as different cycles of the moon, the stories feature various genres, from realistic and war stories to stories about ghosts and Viking vampires, ending with a hint of mystery to be revealed in subsequent chapters. This form, as well as the novel's reliance on adult protagonists, is a rarity in literature for teens. Inspired by Swedish artist Carl Larsson's controversial painting, Midvinterblot (translated as midwinter sacrifice), Sedgwick crafts these seven treats with spare, exact prose in which no word is unnecessary. Together, their reoccurring motifs of orchids, moons, blood and language--to name a few--reinforce Eric and Merle's enduring love. Haunting, sophisticated and ultimately exquisite. (author's note) (Fantasy. 13 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Out of the Easy
 Ruta Sepetys
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Step right onto the rough streets of the New Orleans French Quarter, circa 1950 and meet 17-year-old Josie Moraine, a feisty young woman whose mother, a prostitute in a Conti Street brothel, offers her nothing but scorn and abuse. From the tender age of 12, Josie has made her own way in the world, working in a local bookstore in exchange for a safe place to sleep and cleaning the brothel to earn money toward her planned escape from the Big Easy. Equal parts book smart and street smart, Josie's dream is to attend Smith College, and she will go to extremes, even blackmail, in her desperation to be accepted. But just when her plans start to gain some traction, her mother strikes again, putting Josie in the middle of a murder investigation and saddling her with a mob debt. There are some meaningful messages here: that love can come from the unlikeliest of sources--the rough-and-tumble brothel madam is much more supportive of Josie than her mother ever was--and that we are all in control of our own destinies if only we choose to be. With a rich and realistic setting, a compelling and entertaining first-person narration, a colorful cast of memorable characters and an intriguing storyline, this is a surefire winner. Immensely satisfying. (Historical fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399256929 In the late 1950s, Josie, seventeen-year-old daughter of a prostitute, searches for her father and hopes to leave New Orleans on her own. Josie also works as a maid for the city's premier madam, becomes tied to a murder, and owes money to a Mafia boss. If this sounds like melodrama, it is, but the book will appeal to young adults looking for escapism. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Winger
Book Jacket   Andrew Smith
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A boarding school is the setting for life-changing experiences in this smart, wickedly funny work of realistic fiction from the author of The Marbury Lens (2010). Self-proclaimed loser Ryan Dean is a 14-year-old junior at Pine Mountain, where he plays wing for the tightknit rugby team. In a magnificently frenetic first-person narration that includes clever short comics, charts and diagrams, he relates the story of the first few months of the school term as he's forced to room with an intimidating senior on the restricted, euphemistic Opportunity Hall, due to transgressions from the previous year. He's completely head over heels for Annie, an older classmate who insists she can't be in love with him due to his age, and lives in fear of the "glacially unhot" teacher Mrs. Singer, who he's certain is a witch responsible for cursing him with a "catastrophic injury to [his] penis," among other ailments. He's also navigating letting go of some old friends and becoming closer to one of his teammates, Joey, who's gay. Smith deftly builds characters--readers will suddenly realize they've effortlessly fallen in love with them--and he laces meaning and poignantly real dialogue into uproariously funny scatological and hormonally charged humor, somehow creating a balance between the two that seems to intensify both extremes. Bawdily comic but ultimately devastating, this is unforgettable. (Fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442444928 Fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean plays rugby at Pine Mountain, "the best school around for the rich deviants of tomorrow." Though at first Ryan Dean seems like a nice kid, he ends up like the other boys--getting into fights, peeing in people's drinks. Jaded high schoolers may enjoy the messed-up vision of a school life even worse than their own. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Golden boy
Book Jacket   Tara Sullivan
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399161124 Tanzanian Habo is an albino. He is being pursued by an ivory poacher who is trying to murder Habo for his body parts (superstition holds they can be used for good-luck charms). Sullivan excels at conveying Habo's feelings of freakishness and alienation, and her efforts to draw attention to this real-life human rights abuse are commendable. A glossary and resources are appended. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Some call Habo a zeruzerua zero-zeronothing. Others willingly pursue the riches his albino body parts will bring on the black market in Sullivan's intense debut. With his white skin, shaky, blue, unfocused eyes and yellow hair, 13-year-old Habo fits nowhere in his chocolate-brown Tanzanian familynot with his brothers who shun him, nor even with his mother, who avoids his touch. Did this bad-luck child even cause his father to abandon him at his birth? Only Habo's sister, Asu, protects and nurtures him. Poverty forces the family from their rural home near Arusha to Mwanza, hundreds of miles away, to stay with relatives. After their bus fare runs out, they hitch a ride across the Serengeti with an ivory poacher who sees opportunity in Habo. Forced to flee for his life, the boy eventually becomes an apprentice to Kweli, a wise, blind carver in urban Dar es Salaam. The stark contrasts Habo experiences on his physical journey to safety and his emotional journey to self-awareness bring his growth into sharp relief while informing readers of a social ill still prevalent in East Africa. Thankfully for readers as well as Habo, the blind man's appreciation challenges Habo to prove that he is worth more alive than dead. His present-tense narration is keenly perceptive and eschews self-pity. A riveting fictional snapshot of one Tanzanian boy who makes himself matter. (Fiction. 12-16)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2014
Rose under fire
 Elizabeth Wein
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After a daring attempt to intercept a flying bomb, a young American pilot ferrying planes during World War II is captured by the Nazis in this companion to Printz Honorwinning Code Name Verity (2012). After being brutally punished for her refusal to make fuses for flying bombs and having "more or less forgotten who [she] was," Rose is befriended by Polish "Rabbits," victims of horrific medical experimentation. She uses "counting-out rhymes" to preserve her sanity and as a way to memorize the names of the Rabbits. Rose's poetry, a panacea that's translated and passed through the camp, is at the heart of the story, revealing her growing understanding of what's happening around her. As the book progresses, Wein masterfully sets up a stark contrast between the innocent American teen's view of an untarnished world and the realities of the Holocaust, using slices of narrative from characters first encountered in the previous book. Recounting her six months in the Ravensbrck concentration camp through journal entries and poems, Rose honors her commitment to tell the world of the atrocities she witnessed. Readers who want more Code Name Verity should retool their expectations; although the story's action follows the earlier book's, it has its own, equally incandescent integrity. Rich in detail, from the small kindnesses of fellow prisoners to harrowing scenes of escape and the Nazi Doctors' Trial in Nuremburg, at the core of this novel is the resilience of human nature and the power of friendship and hope. (Historical fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781423183099 Rose Justice, an eighteen-year-old American pilot delivering personnel and planes for Britain in 1944, is captured and sent to notorious German women's concentration camp Ravensbrück; she's befriended by victims of Nazi doctors' medical experiments. Companion to Code Name Verity, this is a powerful, moving, consistently involving story of female friendship in WWII written as a combination of journal entries, letters, and survivor's account. Websites. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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