Snarky and painfully astute. But in a good way.

THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES

See the girl on the train, the white one “with the frizzy red hair and funny mouth”? That’s 16-year-old Willa Parker. Willa has a simple two-point plan: move to the East Coast…and kill herself.

Willa leaves her hometown of What Cheer, Iowa (you heard that right), to attend The Pembroke School and (presumably) go on to Princeton, because her wealthy economist mother (who divorced Willa’s father and left them with nothing) says she “should.” Willa’s plan is derailed when she meets the ultraprivileged, uber-hip Remy Taft (yes, related to the president), the oddly friendless queen of Pembroke. The girls develop a close friendship, complete with witty-cute banter, a late-night joy ride on a stolen golf cart, and frequent Ecstasy trips. As Remy pushes Willa out of her comfort zone, Willa forgets her suicide plan, but it soon becomes apparent self-absorbed Remy has several secrets of her own. As Willa tries to save her best friend from destroying herself, she’s also figuring out whether or not she’s neighboring Witherspoon Prep hottie Milo Hesse’s girlfriend. Surrounded by wealth, Willa often questions the unfairness of privilege; her scholarship status and Midwest origins often make her feel inferior and out of place. Her first-person narration is self-deprecating, deeply thoughtful, and thoroughly funny, with a sometimes-chiding direct address that pulls readers into her confidence.

Snarky and painfully astute. But in a good way. (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-231367-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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