Uncompromising, unflinching, and unsentimental.

THE WEIGHT OF A THOUSAND FEATHERS

A teen struggles with just how far he’s willing to go for his terminally ill mother.

While most kids his age are arguing with their parents over curfews and screen time, Scottish 17-year-old Bobby Seed is his mother’s caregiver. Mum has secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, a painful and debilitating disease of the central nervous system. There’s no pretty way to say it: Mum is going to die. Bobby also looks after his 14-year-old brother, Danny, who acts much younger than his age (he seems to have an undiagnosed cognitive disability; their mother wanted to avoid labeling him). In addition to making sure Danny brushes his teeth and gets to school on time, Bobby tries to protect him from their mother’s prognosis with lies and half-truths. Mum’s health is rapidly deteriorating, and she makes a request that changes everything: She wants Bobby to end her life. Bobby loves her more than anything, but can he take away her pain by taking her life? Bobby’s first-person narration is a masterful and very realistic blend of sarcasm, shame, hopefulness, earnestness, and anger. His emotional ups and downs parallel MS’s vicious cycle of relapse and recovery. Awkward moments with his crush, Lou, the ultracool American guy who drives a vintage Vespa, and lots of ribbing from Mum add a touch of comic relief to temper the story’s seriousness. Assume whiteness throughout.

Uncompromising, unflinching, and unsentimental. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-482-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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