The use of extreme trauma to further this story’s development creates an unredeemable disconnect.



Naomi Brisset, a 14-year-old white British girl in foster care, moves restlessly from home to home.

After Naomi accuses her latest foster father of being “a perv with a big prick P,” her social worker places her with a “second-generation British, West Indian” family, and Naomi begins to build familial connections with the parents, Tony and Colleen, who was also a foster child, and their two children, Pablo and Sharyna. Wheatle (Kerb-Stain Boys, 2018, etc.) has created a distasteful study in misogynoir, ableism, and homophobia. The book fast-tracks Naomi through situations where she leans into socially problematic scenarios with no apparent awareness: She begs her black foster mother to braid her hair so that she looks like Solange Knowles or Alicia Keys then is accused of cultural appropriation by a black girl who confronts her and is locked up in in-school suspension before being carted away. Wheatle's fictional Crongton leans into every negative stereotype of spaces where there are large concentrations of black communities. An opportunity to discuss issues of race in contemporary Britain is squandered when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is quoted out of context, with Tony’s father being labeled racist while Naomi’s own racist commentary is not interrogated. The only queer relationship and characters in the story are demonized through violent and degrading behavior.

The use of extreme trauma to further this story’s development creates an unredeemable disconnect. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61775-753-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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


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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A lush and hypnotic modern fairy tale.


Ten years ago, enigmatic film star Mireille Foix disappeared from Viloxin, her Mediterranean island home, leaving her pharma tycoon husband and two young daughters bereft.

Eighteen-year-old Manon and 17-year-old Thaïs have lived with their aunt in New York City ever since, and their father’s death the previous summer still stings. Tai is puckish and effervescent, with “beautiful gemstones of stories that she’s sharpened to points” and musical laughter that hides deep insecurity. Noni, on the other hand, is a bookish and unabashedly melancholy young woman. When they get an invitation to return to Viloxin, the “Eden” of their childhood, as guests of honor at a retrospective of their mother’s work, they can’t pass it up. Soon after their arrival, Tai discovers White Fox, a legendary unfinished script penned by her mother. The screenplay, which is nestled in between Tai’s and Manon’s narratives as well as that of Boy, a darkly mysterious third narrator, may hold the key to Mireille’s fate. Desperate for the truth, Tai and Noni are enticed into an eerie and darkly seductive puzzle box of enigmatic clues, revelations, and danger. Faring, an imaginative, tactile, and immensely quotable wordsmith, explores the complexities of sisterhood and grief with a deft hand, and her unusual island setting, with its futuristic touches, draws readers in with a sensuous warmth that belies the sharp teeth beneath its surface. Most main characters seem to be White.

A lush and hypnotic modern fairy tale. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30452-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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