THE FOLD

The self-imposed pressure to appear as beautiful as her older sister is accentuated by a makeover gift Joyce receives from her domineering family benefactor, Aunt Gomo. The prospect of attracting the good-looking JFK (John Ford Kang) isn’t the only concern for this Korean teen who’s balancing school and family responsibilities with her parent’s expectations for daily assistance in their busy restaurant. But when it becomes clear that the makeover extends to plastic surgery to create a western-looking fold in her eyelids, Joyce is torn between respectfully complying and her discomfort in surgically creating a look more acceptable to her Aunt, who has appeased her own insecurities with surgery. Na poses a two-fold dilemma for girls of all races. How should physical beauty be interpreted and to what extent should a girl be coerced into developing positive self-confidence? Na deftly provides alternative perspectives with some humorous disaster scenarios as consequences of Aunt Gomo’s good intentions with other family members’ “improvement gifts.” But Helen, the shy and soon-to-be-coming-out lesbian sister, ultimately helps Joyce realize self-respect leads to self-esteem and admiration for each other’s beautiful differences. A lighthearted and thought-provoking look at a serious teen issue. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-399-24276-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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