Readers’ credulity seems to be the required element to enjoy this messed-up mystery.

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE

A murder mystery with a paranormal twist.

Unfortunately, the paranormal twist does not serve the mystery plot well. White prep school scholarship student Nicole Morgan is a magnificent violinist but socially inept, so she’s surprised when the handsome, white, and wealthy Chace Porter seems to be attracted to her. But Chace has a girlfriend, beautiful and wealthy bronze-skinned Lana Rivera, Nicole’s roommate, who claimed him when he arrived on campus. Nicole and Chace meet secretly, however, intending eventually to confess to Lana, but before they can, Chace is found murdered. Nicole becomes the chief suspect when the police find a photo strip of the two of them on Chace’s body; later, the murder weapon is found planted in Nicole’s room. Can Nicole prove her innocence? Moving her narrative back and forth through time and different characters’ perspectives, Monir hits every possible convention: the posh prep school; the talented, innocent scholarship student; the wealthy, powerful, and, of course, modelworthy appearances of most characters; the forbidden romance; the overwrought writing. When she suddenly throws a completely unexpected paranormal element into the story, she departs from the basic mystery/suspense plot and seems to be writing another genre altogether.

Readers’ credulity seems to be the required element to enjoy this messed-up mystery. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-74390-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more