From the Loveboat series


Pearl Wong decides to spend her summer in Taiwan after a social media mishap causes her to lose her seat at a prestigious orchestra program in this stand-alone companion to Loveboat, Taipei (2020) and Loveboat Reunion (2022).

Seventeen-year-old Pearl reasons that enrolling in Chien Tan, the Chinese language and culture program unofficially known to participants as “Loveboat,” would help her keep a low profile while also exploring new interests. Loveboat was a transformative experience for Ever, Pearl’s older sister, and Pearl, whose life is devoted to her budding career as a pianist, wants the same for herself. At the Taipei campus, she meets Ethan Kang, a violinist who shares Pearl’s love of Western classical music. Their flirty jam sessions quickly turn into something steamier, but a heart-pounding encounter at a masquerade party leaves Pearl curious about the masked stranger she kissed. Pearl also develops an interest in the pipa, a traditional Chinese lute that her great-grandmother played professionally, and begins spending time with Kai Ai, a talented pipa player whose prickly demeanor hides unexpected thoughtfulness. With help from those around her—including new Loveboat friends Hollis, who is nonbinary, and their twin, Iris, as well as Loveboat alumna and self-designated aunty Sophie Ha—Pearl tries to sort through tangled romantic feelings while reconsidering her identity as a Chinese American musician. Pearl’s earnestness shines through her narration, taking readers with her on an eye-opening summer of self-examination and finding her roots.

Heartfelt. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063297999

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023


There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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