Though a bit oversimplified at times, the story will open a portal to families with injured soldiers and propel...

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BENEATH WANDERING STARS

After her older brother, Lucas, is wounded in action and rendered comatose, 17-year-old Gabriela Santiago decides to honor a promise to her brother by walking the Camino de Santiago alongside Seth Russo, the unlikeliest of companions.

Gabi, a half-white and half-Mexican Army brat, hates many things about life in the military and is eager to leave Germany to start college at the University of Texas, where she is to return to a civilian life and reunite with her high school friends and boyfriend. However, once Gabi learns of her brother’s critical condition and his request that she walk the pilgrimage, her plans get derailed, With only weeks till she graduates, she and Seth—Lucas’ best friend and fellow soldier, a young white man—hike an abbreviated three-week journey. Along the way, their mutual love for Lucas unites them even as their temperaments separate them. While Gabi walks with her brother in mind, she also hopes to repair her fractured relationship with her father. Seth also has his demons and is wrestling to right his wrongs—and his daily drinking serves as a Band-Aid from the horror he witnessed and experienced in Afghanistan. Gabi’s convincing teen voice guides readers through the complexity of emotions and inner struggle. Despite pacing issues and an unfortunate typo in one of the book's few snatches of Spanish (“Buenas dias” will induce winces), debut novelist Cowles uses the pilgrimage to spark moments of philosophic and theological reflection.

Though a bit oversimplified at times, the story will open a portal to families with injured soldiers and propel conversations about war, identity, philosophy, and hardship. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4405-9582-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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