A smart, heartfelt tale that’s more than its nifty high concept.

The DNA sequencing Dana secretly obtained for her dad was supposed to be his best birthday present ever—now, it threatens to tear her family apart.

Unlike her Latina mom, blessed with a large Mexican family and rich cultural heritage, biracial Dana’s white dad was raised in foster homes, his ancestry a blank. Injuries ended his dream of a career playing baseball. He was further crushed when Selena, Dana’s athletically talented older sister, abandoned sports in college. Less talented but more motivated, Dana’s a star of her Arizona high school softball team that he coaches but also keenly aware hard work won’t make her another Selena. The DNA report leads to the revelation that their dad fathered a son outside marriage after Selena’s birth. When Dana’s attempts to forge a relationship with their half brother, Brandon, are rebuffed, a chance meeting with his olive-skinned cousin Chase opens a way for Dana to know Brandon vicariously even as she falls for Chase himself. The pace drags when Dana obsesses over when, how, and to whom to tell the secrets piling up, but top-notch characters, including minor players like Samoan Nick, Dana’s admirer whose shyness provokes her affection and guilt, sustain reader interest. There’s love, competition, and jealousy among siblings and friends; the compromises and accommodations of marriage; the petty issues that grate and the messy, mixed motives everyone brings to the table—all unfold in lively, complex scenes.

A smart, heartfelt tale that’s more than its nifty high concept. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-335-00794-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017


Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod.

Can a 17-year-old with her first girlfriend prevent real-life folks from discovering her online fandoms?

Cass is proudly queer, happily fat, and extremely secretive about being a fan who role-plays on Discord. Back in middle school, she had what she calls a gaming addiction, playing “The Sims” so much her parents had to take the game away. Now, turning to her role-play friends to cope with her fighting parents, she worries that people will judge her for her fannishness and online life. To be fair, her grades are suffering. And sure, maybe she’s missed a college application deadline. Also, her mom has suddenly left Minneapolis and moved to Maine to be with a man she met online. But on the other hand, Cass is finally dating her amazingly cute longtime crush, Taylor. Pansexual Taylor is a gamer, a little bit punk, White like Cass, and so, so great—but she still can’t help comparing her to Rowan, Cass’ online best friend and role-playing ship partner. But Rowan doesn’t want to be a dirty little secret and doesn’t see why Cass can’t be honest about this part of her life. The inevitable train wreck of her lies looms on the horizon for months in an overlong morality play building to the climax that includes tidy resolutions to all the character arcs that are quite heartwarming but, in the case of Cass’ estranged mother, narratively unearned.

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-324332-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022


An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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