A relaxing and romantic summer tale that would have benefitted from greater depth.

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GIRLS OF JULY

City girls go back to nature, where they bond with locals, let go of stress, and gain new perspectives.

The adventure begins with a post on social media. When Spider’s family wants to sell their summer home in the Adirondacks to ease their financial worries, she convinces her grandmother to allow her to list their extra rooms for rent. Three Southern girls respond—each in dire need of relaxation, each escaping something different, and each needing a summer to regain her footing in life. Drama queen Britta, whose mother can’t seem to see what a creep her new boyfriend is, comes up with the plan. Her classmate Meredith, an honor student with an intensely ambitious mother, follows along. Kate, a wealthy debutante whose father is in trouble with the law, shows up at his suggestion. Four very different young women break down barriers and forge new relationships: By challenging who they think they can befriend, they see themselves anew and are permanently changed. Flinn (Beheld, 2017, etc.) knows her teenage characters: their cultural interests, their pop references, their witticisms and speech patterns. However, the novel covers a lot of territory without offering readers earth-shattering emotion or insights. The setting is evocative, but the characters lack a rich internal life that would move them beyond types. Whiteness is assumed for all apart from Cuban-American Britta.

A relaxing and romantic summer tale that would have benefitted from greater depth. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-244783-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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