The fast-paced narrative and unexpected twists make for an engaging yet educational novel with a powerful message about the...

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DRIVING BY STARLIGHT

Two teenage girls in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, rebel against a patriarchal culture while struggling to navigate their complex family lives.

In this controlled, male-dominated society, no one escapes the scrutiny of the muttaween (religious police) except for those with power and money. Leena has had neither ever since her lawyer father fell into disgrace for leading protests against the government. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mishail, is the daughter of the minister of the interior, the man whose agency conducts surveillance on all communications in the country. Taking place following the 2011 Arab uprisings, Deracine’s debut novel offers a snapshot of the lives of young Saudi women who are navigating universal concerns including gender roles, sexuality, politics, and fashion. Leena’s rebellion leads her to disguise herself as a man and drive illegally and to sneak off to American gated compounds where the rules are less restrictive. Her relationships to Islam and Saudi culture evolve and mature as she seeks to understand the distinctions between the two. Tossing aside clichés and stereotypes of Saudi women as passive, helpless subjects to be pitied, the story shows teenage girls who take control of their futures by turning the very system that imprisons them against itself.

The fast-paced narrative and unexpected twists make for an engaging yet educational novel with a powerful message about the complexities of being a woman in a man’s world. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13342-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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