Gorgeously written and helmed by a protagonist with an indelibly fierce heart.

GRIT

A girl with a reputation grapples with the secrets of last summer.

The summer before her senior year, white teen Darcy Prentiss, her sister Mags, and their cognitively disabled cousin Nell harvest blueberries alongside the seasonal Latino migrants in the eastern Maine heat, working hard to save money. But trouble keeps finding Darcy; she has a reputation, and she’s used to rumors swirling around her. It’s not just rumors about boys, although a white boy named Shea needles endlessly about a mistake she made with him last Fourth of July—there’s also Rhiannon, her ex-friend, who went missing last summer. A police officer starts coming around, suspicious of Darcy’s every move. Though Darcy doesn’t know what happened to Rhiannon, she harbors a different secret about the night the girl went missing, one that could tear apart her family if it got out. Darcy juggles her self-appointed task of defending her cousin, the watchful eye of the law, and Shea’s escalating harassment, all while falling for a fellow white blueberry harvester and begrudgingly participating in the town’s Bay Festival pageant. She’s tough and a fierce protector of what she holds dear, but something has to give. Small-town claustrophobia makes it difficult to define who she is for herself, but rumors, secrets, and even trauma are no match for Darcy’s grit. The mysteries of the previous summer weave together beautifully, and the fallout is achingly real.

Gorgeously written and helmed by a protagonist with an indelibly fierce heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-264255-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

An utterly compelling whodunit.

OVERTURNED

A fast-paced mystery uncovers a truth hidden by the bright lights of Las Vegas.

To bankroll her future escape from Las Vegas, Nikki plays illegal poker games, using her natural skill and training from her father, Nathan “The Broker” Tate. Those skills also help her run the family's failing casino, which languishes because her father is on death row for murdering his business associate. After five years, though, her father's conviction—like so many other black men, he's found to be wrongfully convicted—is overturned and he returns home. Nathan is determined to reveal who framed him, only to quickly end up dead. So Nikki takes up her father's quest and tries to untangle the mystery. Even her blossoming relationship with Davis Carlino—son of local magnate Bertram “Big Bert” Carlino—won't get in the way of finding the truth. Then Nikki discovers how Big Bert and her father are connected…and that Davis could be part of it, too. Is Nikki about to become another Vegas cautionary tale? Nikki is a totally appealing character: gutsy, practical, and strong, at the head of a cast of well-drawn supporting characters. The interracial romance between Nikki and Davis, who is white, is handled deftly, as is Giles’ skillful evocation of the townies-vs.-tourists nature of Las Vegas.

An utterly compelling whodunit. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-81250-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Readers who come for the tightly plotted mystery will stay for the heroine who does all she can to resist.

FIREBRAND

From the Steeplejack series , Vol. 2

Three months after the events of Steeplejack (2016), Anglet Sutonga investigates an elite social club to uncover the identity of a thief and traitor. But as she follows each clue, the Lani girl discovers that wealth, bigotry, and political power intersect to deplorable effect.

Hartley creates a world so analogous to our own it hardly seems like a fantasy. Bar-Selehm is buckling under the rise of a far-right white supremacist political party, a refugee crisis, and the dispossessed poor struggling with too few jobs and too little political power. The unexpected strength of this book is its nuanced examination of whiteness. Beyond the calls for racial purity are the white women claiming to fear for their safety in the presence of brown and black people and part-Lani–but-passing Willinghouse, Anglet’s complicated associate and a Member of Parliament, referring to refugees as “what” rather than “who.” Anglet has blossomed in this sequel, releasing her previously restrained sharp tongue and expanding her emotional range. Even as she learns to put on a neutral face to be a more effective spy, her empathy for those who are suffering and her relentless search for the truth are her most laudable attributes.

Readers who come for the tightly plotted mystery will stay for the heroine who does all she can to resist. (Mystery/fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8813-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

A LINE IN THE DARK

Queer romance, friendship rivalries, and ominous secrets twist together in Lo’s latest enthralling tale.

Chinese-American Jess Wong has known her white best friend, Angie Redmond, since grade school—the problem is she’s loved Angie for nearly as long, unrequited. When Angie begins dating Margot Adams, a wealthy white student at a nearby private school, Jess knows she should be happy that her friend is happy, but as jealousy and suspicion about Margot eat at her instead, her friendship with Angie begins to crack apart. Jess tries to throw herself into her comics art, but even there, themes of loyalty, love, and betrayal arise. As tensions reach their breaking point, a classmate and friend of Margot’s is discovered murdered in the park, and the resulting upheaval and search for a killer sheds light on some harrowing truths about everyone. Lo has delivered an intricate tapestry of narrative, woven in a labyrinthine pattern of secrets and colored with intersecting hues of Chinese-American identity, the dark intensity of relationships, and telltale stains of blood. A sudden (and likely disorienting) shift from Jess’ first-person perspective to a more detached third-person narration serves the practical purpose of providing information; together with police interview transcripts to which Jess couldn’t be privy, it artfully signals to readers that Jess is no longer in control of the story…or the facts.

Mesmerizing. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2742-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

A tense thriller elevated by Stork’s nuanced writing and empathy for every character, including the villains—superb.

DISAPPEARED

Sara Zapata and her brother, Emiliano, do their best to survive with their integrity intact while their beloved Juárez is overrun and endangered by a web of criminals that even involve the police and local government officials.

Sara is a journalist who writes about her best friend, Linda, the latest girl kidnapped by the cartels. The heartfelt story sends ripples through the community, and the paper receives grateful letters from the families of other kidnapped girls—and death threats warning her to drop her investigation. Meanwhile, Emiliano is prospering after his foray into petty thefts and subsequent capture ushered him under the wing of Brother Patricio, the leader of his explorer club, the Jiparis, and his soccer coach. Emiliano’s a star soccer player and has started a side business selling some Jiparis’ artisan crafts to shop owners. Despite this, he’s still too poor to date his crush, Perla Rubi, so when he’s tempted into the same web of criminals that are coming after Sara and have taken Linda, the pull of wealth and a future with Perla Rubi is stronger than his need to do the right thing. Stork deftly writes criminals who aren’t monsters but men who do monstrous things, and while his understanding of Emiliano’s coming-of-age is fully engaging, he really impresses with his evocation of Sara’s need to navigate the advances of men she knows and doesn’t know and the powerful women equally dangerous to her.

A tense thriller elevated by Stork’s nuanced writing and empathy for every character, including the villains—superb. (Thriller. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-94447-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Another ripping yarn from a brilliant author.

THE PEARL THIEF

Wein’s fans will revel in the return of Julie Beaufort-Stuart, the co-narrator of Code Name Verity (2012).

Billed as a prequel to that Printz Honor book, this is no mere back story to Julie’s role in World War II but a stand-alone mystery. The 15-year-old white minor noble returns from boarding school in the summer of 1938 to the Scottish country estate of her late grandfather, the Earl of Strathfearn. Her luggage lost, Julie dons “a mothy tennis pullover which left my arms daringly bare and a kilt that must have been forgotten some time ago by one of my big brothers….I was David Balfour from Kidnapped again, the way I’d been the whole summer I was thirteen.” After a blow to the head leaves her unconscious, Julie becomes tangled up in a web of events that includes a missing antiquities scholar, a body found in a river, and the theft of the family’s heirloom river pearls, all seemingly connected to a band of Travellers with ancestral ties to Strathfearn reaching back as far as Julie’s. Well-developed characters highlight the class differences that Julie chafes against while struggling with her family’s place in a changing world. Her plainspoken, charming narrative voice establishes her own place with the same strength of character, on a smaller scale, that she showed in Code Name Verity.

Another ripping yarn from a brilliant author. (Historical fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1716-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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