Colby’s experiences, while extreme, ring true, and the fast pace, lively and profane dialogue, and timely topic make it a...

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BIG FAT DISASTER

Colby’s life as the heavy daughter of a disapproving former Miss Texas beauty queen is difficult enough, but it gets worse very quickly once she discovers a photo of her politician father kissing another woman.

She and her mother and little sister move to a trailer in a tiny Texas community. She has an agonizing first day of school crammed into blue jeans so tight that she needs a coat hanger to pull the zipper up—and then she discovers that her cousin made a video of her trying to get into her jeans, which gets posted to Facebook. Colby copes with each terrible event the way she always has, with huge amounts of sweets followed by shame, and spirals ever deeper into depression. Readers experience the events through Colby’s present-tense narration, hearing her perceptive take on people: “Mom does that: She nods and smiles even when she thinks the person speaking is full of shit….” Fehlbaum draws a razor-sharp picture of Colby’s judgmental grandparents, her quirky teachers and, most of all, Colby herself and her terrifying mother, who can’t empathize at all. When Colby finally gets help at the end from a therapist and others, Fehlbaum makes it clear that her road ahead will be long and hard.

Colby’s experiences, while extreme, ring true, and the fast pace, lively and profane dialogue, and timely topic make it a quick and enjoyable read. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4405-7048-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An emotionally engaging and draining debut.

OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS

Two teenagers suffer through their first heartbreak.

Henry Page has spent his high school years with his nose to the grindstone, avoiding romantic relationships and focusing on becoming the editor of the school paper. At the start of his senior year Henry is offered the job, but there’s a catch: transfer student Grace Town is offered the gig as well, making the two white teens co-editors. Sparks fly as Henry works with the aloof, unkempt new girl, who walks with a cane. As Henry and Grace grow closer, Henry falls deeper for her even as he learns just how broken she is. In her debut, Sutherland mixes her love story with equal parts hope and ominous dread. There is never any doubt that this couple is marching toward romantic oblivion, but it’s an effectively drawn journey. The characters speak with a John Green–esque voice, but they are never overbearingly precocious. Narrator Henry’s a smartly rendered character, a decent kid who has goals and works hard to achieve them. His new goal is Grace’s affection, and the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object that is Grace’s emotional unavailability provides the novel some of its sharpest moments. When the walls tumble down, the connection between the two is clearly an unhealthy one, and the author pulls no punches, devastating Henry, Grace, and readers in equal measure.

An emotionally engaging and draining debut. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-54656-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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