ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

In this Christian chick-lit effort, car repair paves the way to emotional healing. High-school junior Emily and her father have just moved in with her wealthy aunt and uncle and their two children. Several months previously, Emily’s mother died of cancer, and hospital bills have pushed them to the brink: Emily’s father has lost his car-repair business and their home. Emily, given to dramatic sighs, unexpected tears and prickly angst, has not been able to talk to God since her mother died, her emotional distress amplified by being recently dumped by her boyfriend. While she enthusiastically rejects nearly every kind overture offered to her, next-door-hunk Zander easily breaks through her barriers, since the two of them share an intense interest in auto repair. This activity provides Emily with solace but horrifies her critical, fashion-focused aunt. While cheerleader cousin Whitney is initially portrayed as shallow, she tries hard to relieve Emily’s suffering, as do the minister and youth-group leader at their church. Emily’s egocentric, first-person narration sharply limits the focus, leaving other characters little room to develop. A lack of suspense, a predictable outcome, a nondescript setting and a surfeit of soul-searching on Emily’s part, as she writes long letters to her mother in her journal, all contribute to a largely vanilla-flavored tale of loss and, not surprisingly, redemption. (Christian chick-lit. 10 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-310-71981-6

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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A dizzying, intimate romance.

TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW

Rowan teams up with her academic nemesis to win a citywide scavenger hunt.

Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been rivals in a never-ending game of one-upmanship since freshman year. Now, on the last day of senior year, Rowan hopes to best Neil once and for all as valedictorian, then win Howl, a scavenger hunt with a $5,000 cash prize. She also hopes to sneak away to her favorite romance author’s book signing; no one’s ever respected her passion for the genre, not even her children’s book author/illustrator parents. But Rowan’s named salutatorian, and vengeful classmates plot to end her and Neil’s reign. At first their partnership is purely strategic, but as the pair traverse the city, they begin to open up. Rowan learns that Neil is Jewish too and can relate to both significant cultural touchstones and experiences of casual anti-Semitism. As much as Rowan tries to deny it, real feelings begin to bloom. Set against a lovingly evoked Seattle backdrop, Rowan and Neil’s relationship develops in an absorbing slow burn, with clever banter and the delicious tension of first love. Issues of class, anti-Semitism, and sex are discussed frankly. Readers will emerge just as obsessed with this love story as Rowan is with her beloved romance novels. Rowan’s mother is Russian Jewish and Mexican, and her father is American Jewish and presumably White; most other characters are White.

A dizzying, intimate romance. (author’s note) (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4024-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate.

LOVE, HATE AND OTHER FILTERS

High school senior Maya Aziz works up the courage to tell her parents that she’s gotten into the film school of her dreams in New York City, but their expectations combined with anti-Muslim backlash from a terror attack threaten to derail her dream.

Maya, the only brown girl in her school with the only immigrant parents, loves parts of her Indian culture but blames everything she thinks she can’t have on her cultural constraints and on the fact that she’s different. Time is running out to break the news to her parents that her filmmaking is more than just a hobby. Meanwhile, two potential love interests command her attention. Her matchmaking parents like Kareem, an intriguing young Indian man Maya meets and dates, while Phil, a white classmate who’s been her longtime crush, remains a secret from her parents. Interspersed with Maya’s intimate first-person account are brief, cinematic interludes tracking a disturbed young man who commits a terror attack. First reports blame someone who shares Maya’s last name, and the backlash they suffer leads her parents to restrict Maya’s options. Maya is not especially religious, but she is forced to grapple with her Muslim identity as bullying takes a dangerous turn. Her feelings of entrapment within her parents’ dreams are laid on thick, and Maya herself notes a clichéd moment or two in her story, but the core relationships are authentic and memorable, and the conclusion is satisfying.

A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61695-847-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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