A powerful, nuanced, and necessary read.

GIRL MADE OF STARS

A feminist teen struggles with the personal impact of sexual assault.

Bisexual high school junior Mara has always had a close bond with her twin brother, Owen. After a traumatic experience caused her to withdraw from friends and family as a coping mechanism, Owen was the only one able to draw her out of her shell. When Owen’s girlfriend, Hannah—one of Mara’s best friends—accuses Owen of rape, however, Mara’s world is turned upside down as the brother she thought she knew begins to trigger the very PTSD she’s been trying to hide. As the founder of her school’s feminist club, Mara has never wavered in her conviction to always believe survivors. But as many of her classmates and family, including her fiercely feminist mother, publicly side with Owen, the school’s feminist club rallies around Hannah, and Mara feels forced to choose—between her friend, her family, and coming to terms with her own past. Mara’s bisexuality is never stereotypical, and her ex Charlie’s experience as a closeted nonbinary teen still using feminine pronouns provides excellent and much-needed representation. Blake (Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, 2017, etc.) rightly makes it clear that this book is not focused on Owen or his intentions; his impact and Mara’s processing take center stage. Owen's best friend is Korean; other major characters are white. Resources for survivors are provided.

A powerful, nuanced, and necessary read. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-77823-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

Several yards short of a touchdown.

STAY GOLD

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more