Readers will relate to compassionate, confused Lizzy but might find the overloaded plot hard going.

TELL ME NO LIES

Sometimes secrets twist and turn, leading to mistrust and pain.

Lizzy Swift has epilepsy. She never speaks of it, even to those who know of her condition. She is always worried that she will have a full-blown seizure or that others will notice her petit mal lapses. She and her best friends, Gage and Mimi, are the nerds of the senior class at their all-girls school near Philadelphia. Claire is a new girl, eccentric and with her own mysterious secrets, who draws Lizzy into a different, sometimes-uncomfortable sphere, and Lizzy never knows how Claire will behave toward her. Her longtime secret crush, Matt, is now her boyfriend, and his secrets are even more subtle and hard for her to fathom. Confusing her further is her strong reaction to Mimi’s brother, Theo, who appears when he is needed. Divided into the three seasons of the 1988-89 school year, there are many references to the pop culture and musical groups of the era that modern readers might not recognize. Everything is told in Lizzy’s voice with her own flawed insights and limitations. Characters and events seem to float in and out of the plot, and a seemingly pat conclusion leaves one very important unanswered question. Major characters are white apart from Mimi and Theo, who are Korean-American.

Readers will relate to compassionate, confused Lizzy but might find the overloaded plot hard going. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61620-676-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A powerful tale of found family and first love.

SOME MISTAKES WERE MADE

After a year away, Ellis returns home to confront her past.

Graduating from high school far from everything familiar was not part of Ellis Truman’s original plans, but she nevertheless ended up spending her senior year with her aunt in California. In Indiana, Ellis practically grew up with the Albrey family and their three tightknit sons, Dixon, Tucker, and Easton. Now, Tucker wants her to return home for matriarch Sandry Albrey’s 50th birthday celebration on the Fourth of July—but Ellis is dreading seeing Easton, as they haven’t talked since she left. Chapters alternate between past and present, and much of the story unravels slowly: How did she come to live with the Albreys? What caused Ellis to then end up in San Diego? What happened in her relationship with Easton? Patient readers will find the heartfelt tension pays off. With her father in and out of jail and an absent mother, socio-economic differences separating Ellis from the middle-class Albreys don’t go unnoticed, and Ellis’ down-to-earth journey shows how she unpacks her feelings about her relationship with her parents. The slow-build romance is swoonworthy, and young adult fans of Colleen Hoover seeking emotional devastation and unforgettable characters will find much to enjoy here. Characters read as White.

A powerful tale of found family and first love. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308853-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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