A worthy, diverse addition to the DC Universe.

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YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN

AN AQUALAD GRAPHIC NOVEL

Finding yourself is difficult enough, but it’s more complicated when you have magical powers.

Jake Hyde already has enough to worry about—fretting over being accepted to his dream university to study oceanography; wondering if he’ll ever leave Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, his small town in the middle of the desert; and finding the courage to come out. In the midst of all that, he connects with Kenny—a jock and the only openly gay kid in school—and finds out that the “birthmarks” on his body that he self-consciously keeps covered grant him the power to control water. Jake is keeping secrets from his helicopter mom and best friend, Maria, who’s in love with him, and in living his truth he learns more about the father he believes drowned 17 years ago. In a universe with superheroes and supervillains, Jake must decide who he’s going to be. Sanchez’s text lends authenticity to Jake’s conflicted emotions surrounding his identity and future; he doesn’t shy away from showing the hostile bullying that Kenny and Jake face for daring to be openly gay. Maroh’s realistic sketches in muted tones are infused with bursts of color with generally pale scenery. The illustrations and text work in concert, each amplifying and complementing the other. Jake is African American, Maria is Latinx, and Kenny is Chinese American.

A worthy, diverse addition to the DC Universe. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-14012-9081-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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