An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance.

PAPER HEARTS

From the Heartbreakers Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Another fluffy romance between a girl and a boy-band member, following The Heartbreakers (2015).

Four years ago, after her rebellious older sister, Rose, ran away, Felicity came up with a plan for her future, one designed to make her single mom happy: going to Harvard and becoming a lawyer—just like her absentee dad. It also means working, studying hard, and volunteering as much as she can, leaving little time for enjoying her summer with her best friends, Asha and Boomer. Then, volunteering at a charity ball, she meets the very cute, very reserved Alec, a member of the Heartbreakers. Sparks fly, but right before their first date, Felicity discovers a life-altering secret her mother has been keeping: Rose has been writing Felicity letters since she left. This sends Felicity on a quest to find Rose, accompanied by Alec, Asha, and Boomer. Along the way, she’ll have to come to grips with questions about lies, the truth, and whether her plans for the future will make her happy—can her happiness include Alec? The romance between Felicity and Alec is standard, from the meet-cute to the inevitable misunderstanding. There’s not really anything that elevates the characters or plot beyond the conventional, yet Novak handles it all with a light, deft touch. Save mixed-race Asha, whose mother is Indian and whose father is white, the cast of principals is an all-white one.

An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance. (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5336-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

HIT

A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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An earnest but belabored story of love and cognitive disability.

ROSIE LOVES JACK

A teen with Down syndrome runs away to find her boyfriend when her parents forbid their relationship.

Sixteen-year-old Rose Tremayne and her boyfriend, Jack, were made for each other. Jack, who was born with a brain injury, helps Rosie with reading and writing; Rosie calms his anger issues. But after a violent outburst, Jack is sent away—and Rosie’s parents think she should forget him. Rosie resolves to find Jack herself, taking the train to London alone and venturing into the city’s labyrinthine subway system. As she copes with transportation setbacks, she encounters assorted strangers—some kind and some with unsavory intentions. Though secondary characters lack depth, Rosie’s narration sympathetically expresses her determination, frustration, and naïveté in equal measure, and others’ patronizing and rude reactions to her disability are sadly realistic. However, much of the plot feels contrived. Despite Darbon’s efforts to show that Rosie is more than her Down syndrome, she doesn’t escape being a symbol of childlike innocence, a problematic trope. While a twist darkly demonstrates how people with intellectual disabilities can be targets of abuse, its execution is somewhat implausible. Portrayed primarily through Jack’s misspelled postcards and florid prose such as “The sun came out in my head and my heart grew wings and took me up to the moon,” the romance never quite feels three-dimensional; the ending, though touching, is rather pat. Most characters default to White.

An earnest but belabored story of love and cognitive disability. (author's note) (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68263-289-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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