Racing action and tender romance shine in a story of hard love and harder competition.

BREATH LIKE WATER

When swimming is everything, what’s left when your life doesn’t go according to plan?

A world champion swimmer at 14, Susannah Ramos’ changing body has betrayed her; she struggles to maintain her edge in the pool just two years later. Now, a manipulative coach and crippling self-doubt feel like insurmountable hurdles as Susannah fights to regain both her self-confidence and a spot in the upcoming Olympic Trials. A handsome newcomer to the team turns into more than just a friend, and Susannah must rethink her priorities as she works to regain her elite athlete status. Blossoming romance is soon challenged by pressures from the swim team and difficult secrets coming to light. Jarzab expertly captures the intense pressures of high-stakes athletic competition and the complicated reality of loving someone with mental health struggles. Susannah’s family’s Mexican American heritage is significant to the plot, and themes of identity and feeling like an outsider in a predominantly white sport are explored authentically. Susannah is third-generation Mexican American and growing up in suburban Illinois. Readers will root for Susannah in her journey to find her place, both in and out of the pool.

Racing action and tender romance shine in a story of hard love and harder competition. (Sports romance. 15-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-335-05023-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Best leave it at maybe so.

YES NO MAYBE SO

Two 17-year-olds from the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, work together on a campaign for a progressive state senate candidate in an unlikely love story.

Co-authors Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Saeed (Bilal Cooks Daal, 2019, etc.) present Jamie Goldberg, a white Ashkenazi Jewish boy who suffers from being “painfully bad at anything girl-related,” and Maya Rehman, a Pakistani American Muslim girl struggling with her parents’ sudden separation. Former childhood best friends, they find themselves volunteered as a team by their mothers during a Ramadan “campaign iftar.” One canvassing adventure at a time, they grow closer despite Maya’s no-dating policy. Chapters alternate between Maya’s and Jamie’s first-person voices. The endearing, if somewhat clichéd, teens sweetly connect over similarities like divorced parents, and their activism will resonate with many. Jamie is sensitive, clumsy, and insecure; Maya is determined, sassy, a dash spoiled, and she swears freely. The novel covers timeless themes of teen activism and love-conquers-all along with election highs and lows, messy divorces, teen angst, bat mitzvah stress, social media gaffes, right-wing haters, friendship drama, and cultural misunderstandings, but the explicit advocacy at times interferes with an immersive reading experience and the text often feels repetitious. Maya’s mother is hijabi, and while Maya advocates against a hijab ban, she chooses not to wear hijab and actively wrestles with what it means to be an observant Muslim.

Best leave it at maybe so. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293704-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Ostensibly a thriller, this debut misses its mark.

MONSTERS AMONG US

A college student tries to solve the murder in the wake of her own sexual assault.

Catherine, a first semester freshman, comes home reeling from a sexual assault that took place at a college party just before winter break. Shortly after her return, someone close to her is murdered in her Washington hometown. As the police investigation into the murder gets underway, Catherine becomes determined to do her own sleuthing, desperate for answers and an outlet for her trauma. She is helped by Henry, an old friend, and Andrew, a young man who shows up at her house one day to return the coat she left behind in her assailant’s room the night of her assault. The circumstances of Andrew’s untimely arrival on the scene provoke suspicions—was he involved in Catherine’s rape or even the murder? Yet Catherine seems implausibly quick to dismiss these suspicions out of a desire to bring Andrew into the fold due to his close connection to the local police department and thus, clues. The trio’s amateur detective work leaves much to be desired as far as plotting is concerned, jumping from hunch to hunch on minimal evidence, with the bulk of their investigation focusing on abuses of power within a local church. The sexual assault narrative is largely sidelined for the sake of a plodding mystery. All major characters are White.

Ostensibly a thriller, this debut misses its mark. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12586-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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