Careful, subtle and aching.

LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES

A system for avoiding heartbreak falls apart in an unexpectedly insightful tale of friendship and loyalty.

Aubrey’s friends spend their weekends making out with boys at parties, drinking Slurpees mixed with vodka, and hurling insults at their ex-friend, Chiffon. Now that Aubrey has gotten into her dream school and eased off her work schedule, she can join them. Just before the start of their junior year, Shelby, the de facto group leader, developed the titular theories. High school boys, according to the theories, are incapable of commitment, so girls should enjoy sex and never expect anything afterward. But when good-looking outsider Nathan Diggs shows up in Aubrey’s drama class, and Nathan and Aubrey quickly become inseparable, Aubrey is tempted to forget that she’s become “evolved.” What looks poised to be a romantic comedy (girl meets boy; theories fail; love triumphs) turns into something far more complex and bittersweet. Each character’s life is carefully imagined, from Chiffon, the target of the girls’ ridicule, to Shelby herself, whose carefree armor slowly begins to crack. The bullying is never forgiven. The lovers, once estranged, are never entirely reunited. The theories are indeed debunked, but what is left in their place is a kind of vulnerability and regret that can’t be summed up in a romantic platitude.

Careful, subtle and aching. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-227532-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

Compelling, powerful and unforgettable.

AUDACITY

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)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16899-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

A natural and notable companion for Joy Hakim’s magisterial but sunnier History of US (2006).

THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, VOLUME 1

YOUNG READERS EDITION, 1898-1945

From the Untold History of the United States series

The darker side of the "American Century," recast for younger audiences from the companion to a sobering documentary film (book and film both 2012).

From the hugely profitable Spanish American War to the "gratuitous" bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the co-authors "focus a spotlight on the ways we believe the United States has betrayed its mission and the ideals of its own Constitution." That harsh light moves from the U.S. subjugation of Latin America to the ready support American industrialists gave both the Germans in World War I and the Axis in World War II—casting sidelights on the hypocrisy of Woodrow Wilson and Truman's lack of statesmanship and moral vacuity. The account closes with the thoroughly documented claim that the atomic bombs were dropped more as a message to Stalin than to force Japan into a surrender for which it was already practically begging. Along with giving Russia a more significant role in defeating both Hitler and Japan than standard histories usually grant, the authors also point to other turning points and near misses that are rarely if ever part of standard school curricula. The first of a planned four-volume set, this has a more open page design than the original book for adults and some additional photos.

A natural and notable companion for Joy Hakim’s magisterial but sunnier History of US (2006). (chronology, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2173-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Hilarious—all the way through.

HELLHOLE

A dark comedy follows the misadventures of a boy trying to get rid of the devil that has moved into his basement.

Yes, Max starts the book by doing something bad: He steals a silly toy for his sick mom. Then he indulges his paleontology obsession by digging a hole on the hill that looms over his town, only to open a huge, apparently bottomless crater. Sadly, it seems that Max’s decision to embrace the criminal life is enough to bring the powers of hell down upon his head—or rather, into his basement. Upon returning home from his excavation efforts, he finds an actual devil named Burg happily snacking on junk food and declaring himself a permanent resident in Max’s home. Seeing a possible advantage in his new supernatural housemate, Max makes a deal: the constantly wisecracking Burg will cure his mom’s critical heart disease if he can find Burg a free mansion with a hot tub. Lore, a girl who understands Max’s dilemma only too well, teams up with him to try to appease Burg before he starts killing people. Damico, who explored the lives of teenage grim reapers in her Croak trilogy, writes with wry wit and constant dark humor. She mixes in a bit of possible romance, as Max wonders if he has any chance with the vastly different Lore, also to great comic effect.

Hilarious—all the way through. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-30710-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

“We’re gonna march”—oh, yes.

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MARCH

BOOK TWO

Heroism and steadiness of purpose continue to light up Lewis’ frank, harrowing account of the civil rights movement’s climactic days—here, from cafeteria sit-ins in Nashville to the March on Washington.

As in the opener, Powell’s dark, monochrome ink-and-wash scenes add further drama to already-dramatic events. Interspersed in Aydin’s script with flashes forward to President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Lewis’ first-person account begins with small-scale protests and goes on to cover his experiences as a Freedom Rider amid escalating violence in the South, his many arrests, and his involvement in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s formation and later internal strife. With the expectation that readers will already have a general grasp of the struggle’s course, he doesn’t try for a comprehensive overview but offers personal memories and insights—recalling, for instance, Martin Luther King Jr.’s weak refusal to join the Freedom Riders and, with respect, dismissing Malcolm X: “I never felt he was a part of the movement.” This middle volume builds to the fiery manifesto the 23-year-old Lewis delivered just before Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech and closes with the September 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. The contrast between the dignified marchers and the vicious, hate-filled actions and expressions of their tormentors will leave a deep impression on readers. Lewis’ commitment to nonviolent—but far from unimpassioned—protest will leave a deeper one. Backmatter includes the original draft of Lewis’ speech.

“We’re gonna march”—oh, yes. (Graphic memoir. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60309-400-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

Vivid details and the immediacy of Lowery’s voice make this a valuable primary document as well as a pleasure to read.

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TURNING 15 ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM

MY STORY OF THE SELMA VOTING RIGHTS MARCH

In 1965, Lynda Blackmon Lowery turned 15 during the three-day voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

In this vibrant memoir, Lowery’s conversational voice effectively relates her experiences in the civil rights movement on and before that march. The youngest person on the march, she’d already been jailed nine times as a protester, once for six days and once in a hot, windowless “sweatbox” where all the girls passed out. At a protest on “Bloody Sunday,” earlier in 1965, a state trooper beat her so badly she needed 35 stitches in her head. The terror of that beating haunted her on the march to Montgomery, but she gained confidence from facing her fear and joining forces with so many, including whites whose concern amazed her after a childhood of segregation. Lowery’s simple, chronological narrative opens and closes with lyrics of freedom songs. Appendices discuss voting rights and briefly profile people who died on or around “Bloody Sunday.” Double-page spread color illustrations between chapters, smaller retro-style color pictures and black-and-white photographs set in generous white space will appeal even to reluctant readers.

Vivid details and the immediacy of Lowery’s voice make this a valuable primary document as well as a pleasure to read. (Memoir. 11-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4123-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN

Similar to Sedgwick’s Printz Award–winning Midwinterblood (2013), four stories relate in elusive ways.

Sedgwick calls these stories “quarters” and encourages readers to experience them in any order. If read in the printed order, they begin with the dawn of time in a story that uses spare verse to describe a cave-dwelling girl who awakens to the world through the spiral shapes she sees as she gathers magic for her people. The second story skips to pre-Enlightenment England and the heartbreaking story of Anna, who is accused of witchcraft after taking up her mother’s “cunning woman” mantle. The fictitious journal entries of a Dr. James follow as this early-20th-century psychiatrist forms an unusual relationship with an asylum patient and leaves readers wondering who the true threat to society is. The quartet concludes with a science-fiction thriller in which Sentinel Keir Bowman, awake only 12 hours every 10 years, journeys on a spaceship scouting for new life. What openly draws these stories together is a spiral and spinning symbolism that presents itself through vivid details, from the seemingly mundane to literary references. Individually they conform to conventions; together they defy expectations as they raise questions about humanity and its connections to the universe and one another. Although Sedgwick gives a nod to teens, this complex masterpiece is for sophisticated readers of any age.

Haunting. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-125-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Readers for whom pre–civil rights America is ancient history will find this poetic interpretation eye-opening and riveting.

X

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)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6967-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

An insightful disaster-survival story with far-reaching emotional resonance. (brief history notes, glossary) (Fiction. 14...

HOLD TIGHT, DON'T LET GO

Two cousins, close as sisters, survive the Haitian earthquake, but will life ever be the same? 

Magdalie and Nadine, two 15-year-old schoolgirls, instantly lose their Manman, their home and their equilibrium to the disaster of January 2010. When Nadine’s father resurfaces and whisks her off to Miami, Magdalie is forced to confront her new life in a relief camp with her uncle-turned–reluctant caregiver, Tonton Élie, and heartbreaking challenges, still holding out hope that Nadine will one day send for her. Eventually Magda’s anger and grief find release via visits to a vodou priestess, the mourning and burial rituals for Manman, and emerging love. Debut novelist Wagner lived in Haiti and wrote her cultural anthropology dissertation on disaster and community in Port-au-Prince. She successfully folds in sensory experiences of the capital city and beyond, along with meditations on love, loss, home and hope, without lecture or contrivance. Readers will find the characters believable and engaging. The title reflects a form of Haitian Creole goodbye that captures the complexity of separation, while the final chapter is Magdalie’s hopeful projection for the future for herself and Nadine, as well as all of Haiti.

An insightful disaster-survival story with far-reaching emotional resonance. (brief history notes, glossary) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1204-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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