A fresh, insightful, inspiring take on what it means to come out.

HONESTLY BEN

Not your average boarding school drama.

Seventeen-year-old, New Hampshire–farm–raised, proud Czech-American Ben Carver has just been elected the captain of posh, private Natick School’s famed baseball team in his junior year. He’s also been told by the headmaster that he’s next in line to win the school’s coveted scholarship—awarded to only one Natick student annually. (Like his teammates, Ben is white; unlike them, he’s not “exceedingly wealthy.”) He's a huge history buff; he's kind. He's also struggling between what he feels versus what he yearns to feel. Earlier in the year he experienced an intense, romantic connection with his best friend, Rafe, that still haunts him. However, when he meets an outspoken student from the nearby all-female academy, he thinks he can finally dampen the sparks Rafe ignites. Maybe. Konigsberg's latest is full of heart. Not only is Ben fully fleshed with an honest, admirable set of emotions and principles, he's also 6 feet 2 inches and muscled—exactly the kind of protagonist that readers will be drooling over. Every other character is rendered in the same thoughtful way—even the douchebags have hearts. The plot unfolds naturally from Ben's point of view, and despite a somewhat forced ending it still ends on a high. Packed with literary references, pranks, heady conversations, humor, honesty, and tribulation, this is one that will be remembered.

A fresh, insightful, inspiring take on what it means to come out. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-85826-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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