High-school junior Shirley Rutz knows she’s ugly—she sees it in the mirror, her mother and pretty sister reinforce the...

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BORN UGLY

This taut thriller showcases the award-winning Canadian author’s gift for creating memorable teen characters who confront tough issues alone—in this case, teen bullying, portrayed in gritty, claustrophobic detail by its victim.

High-school junior Shirley Rutz knows she’s ugly—she sees it in the mirror, her mother and pretty sister reinforce the message and her classmates hammer it home. Their weapons of choice run from cruel jeers and physical intimidation to sophisticated cyberbullying. To endure the pain, Shir takes refuge in her hideaway above the river, anesthetizing herself with alcohol. To pay the exorbitant price her adult suppliers charge for beer, she makes deliveries for a grocer whose appreciation for her work is the only praise she hears. The crutches Shir relies on are fragile though, and they soon begin to fail her. The relentless abuse at school escalates, a strange boy invades her sanctuary and she makes the horrifying discovery that she’s been delivering more than groceries. If Shir’s crutches are what’s kept her going, giving them up is the price of survival. Goobie’s third-person voice relentlessly puts readers directly in Shir’s head, pulling no punches in creating a memorable, believable character.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88995-457-1

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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