An empowering journey of self-actualization and a look at the intimate bonds that shape a person.

THE SUMMER BETWEEN US

A Canadian high school senior grapples with life after graduation and his nuanced identity.

Eighteen-year-old Adrian Carter is on the brink of greatness. He’s graduating high school with honors; he earned a coveted scholarship; he’s a youth mentor at the library; his multiracial friend group is supportive; and his punk rocker girlfriend, Melody Woods, loves him unconditionally. These are undisputed blessings in Adrian’s life, so why does the future—and all its infinite possibilities—freak him out? Not only is Adrian struggling with how to talk to his parents about his past eating disorder, but he’s hiding his decision to apply to Cape Breton University’s community studies program, which he prefers to the business administration degree his father is pushing. When Mel asks Adrian to join her band on a national tour, he’s torn. Although he’s unsure about looming adulthood, the punk scene hasn’t been welcoming to a sensitive Black introvert. As the summer surges ahead, Adrian begins to realize the quiet, radical power of letting go. In this stand-alone companion to Worthy of Love (2019), the lingering aftermath of Adrian’s struggles with bulimia is carefully and empathetically explored, particularly the damaging consequences of his dad’s toxic masculinity. Adrian and Mel’s relationship is grounded in mutual respect, and they experience similar identity issues, as Mel is Asian Indian and implied White, and Adrian’s parents are biracial (Black and White).

An empowering journey of self-actualization and a look at the intimate bonds that shape a person. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4595-0681-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Formac

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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