Darrah goes from too-bad to too-good way too fast to be believable or especially satisfying.

READ REVIEW

WHATEVER

Darrah, angry that her mother’s preoccupation with her younger brother’s out-of-control epilepsy has caused her to miss an important audition, pulls the fire alarm in the hospital and then must face the consequences.

After pulling the alarm, while escaping down the stairs, Darrah accidentally knocks over elderly Mrs. Johnson, who breaks her leg. The consequences in the Canadian justice system are for her to face all the involved parties in a Restorative Justice circle; they then agree on an appropriate punishment. Darrah suffers from a bad attitude at the outset, showing little guilt and, initially, a lack of empathy. She’s sentenced to provide in-home assistance to Mrs. Johnson, a wise, nearly blind lady who’s determined to straighten the teen out, partly with cooking lessons that immediately strike a chord with Darrah. She quickly realizes that few know of Mrs. Johnson’s eyesight problems and worries over whether to protect her secret. Darrah makes a remarkably rapid turnaround in attitude, becoming devoted to her slightly cranky mentor and also getting swept up in a new friendship with the woman’s agreeable grandson. In addition to relying on the all-too-familiar transformation-under-tutelage-of-wise-elder trope, Walsh takes on more issues than she can effectively handle and never quite does justice to any of them, in spite of a few likable-enough characters.

Darrah goes from too-bad to too-good way too fast to be believable or especially satisfying. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55380-259-4

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Ronsdale Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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One great big whodontcare.

WHEN YOU LEAVE

A skater girl–turned–private school coed investigates the death of her two-week-old hookup in this debut.

After her single mom remarries and moves Cass to private school, the teen copes by maintaining her friendships with the male skateboarders from her old neighborhood, including her best friend, Mattie, who has become mute after a bout with throat cancer. In spite of her disdain for St. Bernadette’s, Cass falls for Cooper, an attractive peer counselor who has the bad luck to be murdered two weeks after he and Cass meet. When Cass’ skater friend Gav is accused of the murder, she is determined to clear his name. After many accusations and much lying and sneaking out, Cass ends up getting her biggest clue from a dream, and the murderer is no one readers ever could have guessed. While the story has some satisfying moments, the text is littered with clichés and laughably clunky sentences like “Reality stroked my stomach like a hot poker.” The dialogue is awkward, the secondary characters are hard to distinguish from one another, and it’s difficult to believe that independent Cass would so easily fall for a “[t]ypical pretty boy” who woos her with phrases like “I like you….You have a virtual, I don’t know, rainbow of emotions without even talking.” The most interesting character by far is Mattie, who carries a torch for Cass and communicates with finger taps and shoulder shrugs. Their slowly unfolding romance is the engine that drives this otherwise uninspired mystery.

One great big whodontcare. (Mystery. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5455-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Running Press Teens

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A must-have book for libraries, schools, and churches.

QUEERFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE

A GUIDE FOR LGBTQ+ CHRISTIAN TEENS

A must-read guide for all queer and questioning Christians (and their allies, too)!

Queer youth still face a multitude of challenges while growing up, and these have the potential to be amplified by religious beliefs. Addressing that issue head-on, this guide for Christians seeks to provide counsel, understanding, and gentle guidance across a series of 40-plus chapters that address everything from coming out in a variety of contexts, positive ways to deal with haters, and helping start the conversation about gender-neutral bathrooms at school, to living authentically. The book acknowledges that the advice is sometimes vague, but that’s because the spectrum of queer life is so broad. In this regard, the book excels by speaking to a range of genders and sexual identities; asexuals, nonbinary people, bisexuals, pansexuals, etc., are all addressed with respect and will find useful tips for navigating their early years. The book works better for hunt-and-peck readers as opposed to those reading from cover to cover because some of the information is repetitious, but that repetition may be necessary to counterbalance years of incorrect, inaccurate, or purposely hateful misinformation. The contributors to this fabulous read include mental health experts and religious leaders. Text boxes, pie charts, graphs, and grayscale illustrations support and enhance the main narrative.

A must-have book for libraries, schools, and churches. (note on language, glossary, additional resources, sources) (Self-help. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot.

LOST CAUSE

From the Seven (The Series) series

Posthumous messages and tantalizing clues send a teenager from Canada to Barcelona in search of a hidden chapter from his beloved grandfather’s past.

One of a septet of simultaneously published novels, all by different authors and featuring cousins who are each left a mission or task in their shared grandfather’s will, this takes Steve to Spain, where he discovers that his elder relative was a member of the International Brigades. He is guided by his grandfather’s old journal and also by Laia, an attractive young resident of the city who lectures him on the Spanish Civil War while taking him to several local memorial sites. Steve slowly gains insight into how it felt to believe passionately in a cause—even, in this case, a doomed one—and then to lose that innocent certainty in the blood and shock of war. The storyline is, though, at best only thin glue for a series of infodumps, and readers will get a stronger, more specific view of that conflict’s drama and course from William Loren Katz’s Lincoln Brigade: A Pictorial History (1989).

A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot. (map and family tree, not seen) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55469-944-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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