While it doesn’t quite stand on its own, this sequel deftly develops the appealing characters.


A teenager narrates his confusing emotions in this second installment of a coming-of-age series.

Picking up right where the first volume, Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? (2014), left off, Roamer continues the story of Arvydas “RV” Aleksandravičius, who has just finished his freshman year at a high school in Boston. RV had been looking forward to spending the summer with his good friends Bobby Marshall and Carole Higginbottom—especially Bobby, as the two shared their burgeoning gay feelings and a first kiss at the close of the preceding novel. Those plans quickly go out the window. Carole gets the opportunity to spend the summer in Paris, and Bobby is being torn between football and arguing about his future with his father. To make matters worse, RV feels that things are off when Bobby does make time for him. RV also discovers that his younger brother, Ray, may be getting in over his head with the wrong crowd. As the teen’s parents stress over their upcoming citizenship exams to become official Americans and the gas station where Bobby works comes under fire from local gangs, it seems the only safe place RV can go is Joe’s, his favorite pizza shop. There, his trustworthy mentor Mr. Aniso is ready with slices and advice. RV maintains the charm and wit that made him a lovable narrator in the first installment. This second chapter expands further into the heavier themes floating beneath the surface of the protagonist’s life, namely, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and the decline of the American dream. (RV’s father’s hesitancy to become a United States citizen and his inability to articulate clearly why he left Lithuania deliver a fresh, intriguing take on contemporary first-generation American life.) But many plot points, such as surprising violence at the gas station and Bobby’s reluctance to come out, never reach a satisfying conclusion. Still, the stage is effectively set for the next volume.

While it doesn’t quite stand on its own, this sequel deftly develops the appealing characters.

Pub Date: May 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64890-021-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Ninestar Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.


From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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