A smart and believably gritty tale of the streets with genuine heart.

TAKEDOWN

Multidimensional characters convincingly play on the sympathies of readers in this realistic and suspenseful urban drama.

After being released from juvenile detention, Darren vows revenge against the leader of the drug-dealing gang for whom he took the fall. He’s an intelligent young man with dreams of making it in the music world, a sweet adoration for his young brother, and a magnetic attraction to Jessica, a girl at school; Darren’s also an informant for the police. By becoming a dealer for the same gang that pinned the blame on him, he hopes to provide tips that will help bring down the head of the organization, Diamond Tony. Short, action-filled chapters are expertly crafted to urge readers on, and the gradual revealing of details about Darren’s family and background adds a layer of depth. Many chapters end with raps penned by Darren, often expressing his feelings about what’s going on in his life, and while these fit well with his constructed persona, they feel a little awkward at times—perhaps since they are meant to be heard over a beat instead of read. While this does interrupt the flow of the narrative a bit, it does not detract overall from what is an exceedingly readable novel.

A smart and believably gritty tale of the streets with genuine heart. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6311-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the...

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THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.

Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniel’s a poet who believes in love, something that can’t be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natasha’s understandably distracted—and doesn’t want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, “the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them.” The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Daniel—sure they’re meant to be—is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her family’s deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoon’s lush prose chronicles an authentic romance that’s also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate.

With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49668-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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