AMANDINE

A charismatic, dangerous girl with a flair for drama first attracts and then repels both protagonist and reader in this disquieting story. Dumpy Delia has just moved (again) and is starting midyear at a new high school. Fully aware of her social position (“This week was different from last, when the luster of ‘new girl’ had clung to me shiny as a wet lollipop. . . . Now, kids had figured out that I was nothing special”), Delia is pleased, if wary, when the one-of-a-kind Amandine singles her out for friendship. Together they enact “skits” about their schoolmates and vie with each other for honors in an informal contest to collect “Ugliest Things.” When Amandine lashes out cruelly at a third friend, however, Delia finds the strength to pull away from the relationship—but Amandine will not let her go without exacting revenge. Griffin (Witch Twins, p. 740, etc.) gets Delia just right: her smart, observer’s voice perfectly fits a girl who has sat on the sidelines for most of her life, including in her own home, where her parents clearly take out their disappointment in her with a sort of conscientious neglect (they feed her, for example, but never with them). The language at times approaches the sublime: as a volunteer at a nursing home, Delia “held up the listening end on the slow unraveling spools of other people’s lives.” Some of the characterization is a little incomplete and overtidy—a neighbor who is paid to pick Delia up after school suddenly becomes a surrogate mother to her, Delia herself develops a spine seemingly overnight—but the roots of Amandine’s viciousness, while clearly indicated by her own bizarre household, remain satisfyingly beyond our ken. Beautifully told and emotionally honest. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0618-4

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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