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ALL YOU HAVE TO DO

An electric debut: a must-read for all.

Chronicles the experiences of two Black students balancing family and personal expectations while engaging in the precarious work of organizing.

In 1995, Massachusetts high school senior Gibran’s ambivalent about attending a mostly White prep school. When a talent show performance by White students uses Black rapper aesthetics for cheap laughs, Gibran, quite literally, pulls the plug on it. This small act results in a strong warning: one more “disruption” before he’s expelled. His sympathetic mother reminds him to focus on his Howard University scholarship: “The question is, do you deserve the punishment you’re going to get for giving them what they deserve?” But when Gibran and others who wish to honor the upcoming Million Man March clash with administrators, his choices place him in jeopardy. In 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Columbia University student Kevin is organizing with the Society of Afro-American Students. They oppose Columbia’s expansion into Harlem, which would displace residents, and, as the Vietnam War rages, they want the university to renounce ties to war research. After reading sensationalized headlines, Kevin’s parents try to dissuade him from further participation in the lengthy, increasingly hostile student-led campus occupation. Allen constructs a vivid narrative that balances both timelines seamlessly and pointedly highlights often overlooked history. The crisp, succinct prose and fully realized characters make this a shining example of how principled research in lock step with exceptional writing creates an unforgettable reading experience.

An electric debut: a must-read for all. (acronyms and organizations, author’s note) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9780593619049

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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