A satisfying romance that will please Sarah Dessen fans.

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FAR FROM NORMAL

An embarrassing run-in with a soccer star starts off Maddie’s summer on the wrong foot.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie McPherson has gotten the nickname CalaMaddie since things tend to go wrong when she’s around. She hopes to change the odds this summer when her aunt gets her an internship at a Chicago marketing agency—and if all goes well, a good recommendation will help her get into her dream college. The internship consists of coffee runs and answering phones, until she’s unexpectedly assigned to a big project to improve the reputation of 19-year-old hard-partying Italian soccer star Gabe Fortunato. This doesn’t make her popular with the other interns, but Maddie’s determined to prove herself. She needs Gabe to open up so that she can create original, likable social media content, and of course once he does, she can’t help falling for him. But is he interested in her too, or is it all an act? With insecurities of never being good enough, both ordinary Maddie and famous Gabe feel realistic and engaging. When photos of Maddie and Gabe together make the rounds and trolls attack her appearance, the book presents an important indictment of women taking down other women. Mishaps abound and keep the pacing tight in this utterly charming tale. All main characters are presumably White.

A satisfying romance that will please Sarah Dessen fans. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64567-056-8

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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