Some teen readers will accept the slightly shallow plotlines and characters thanks to the (relative) novelty of the format;...



From the Snap Decision series , Vol. 1

Told with second-person narration, Clark’s teen debut immerses readers in a freshman scholarship student’s social dilemmas at an uber-exclusive prep school. Chapters end with classic Choose Your Own Adventure–style scenarios, allowing readers to navigate various plotlines.

Liberally sprinkled with pop-culture references (“In the immortal words of Beyonce, don’t you ever get to thinking you’re irreplaceable”), designer clothing brands (Marc Jacobs, Cartier) and slang (“chunder”), the teens’ voices are potentially appealing, if a bit caricatured. Predictably, many of the possible decisions center around potential romantic interests. “You” will often find yourself torn between your perfect crush, who happens to be your best friend/roommate’s boyfriend, a “Top Five senior stud” wannabe musician and your semi-nerdy best friend, Walter. Few readers will be surprised that choosing Walter results more consistently in happiness, though many may be dismayed that Walter frequently must first undergo a “bona fide hottie” makeover transformation. More troubling is Clark’s casual treatment of substantive issues. The real consequences of a student’s romantic entanglement with a teacher (and the student’s subsequent jealousy-fueled arson) are never addressed. A victim of rophynol-assisted date rape does eventually seek medical treatment, but the psychological impacts of her experience merit only a few brief sentences.

Some teen readers will accept the slightly shallow plotlines and characters thanks to the (relative) novelty of the format; most will give it a miss. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-816-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.


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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Best leave it at maybe so.


Two 17-year-olds from the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, work together on a campaign for a progressive state senate candidate in an unlikely love story.

Co-authors Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Saeed (Bilal Cooks Daal, 2019, etc.) present Jamie Goldberg, a white Ashkenazi Jewish boy who suffers from being “painfully bad at anything girl-related,” and Maya Rehman, a Pakistani American Muslim girl struggling with her parents’ sudden separation. Former childhood best friends, they find themselves volunteered as a team by their mothers during a Ramadan “campaign iftar.” One canvassing adventure at a time, they grow closer despite Maya’s no-dating policy. Chapters alternate between Maya’s and Jamie’s first-person voices. The endearing, if somewhat clichéd, teens sweetly connect over similarities like divorced parents, and their activism will resonate with many. Jamie is sensitive, clumsy, and insecure; Maya is determined, sassy, a dash spoiled, and she swears freely. The novel covers timeless themes of teen activism and love-conquers-all along with election highs and lows, messy divorces, teen angst, bat mitzvah stress, social media gaffes, right-wing haters, friendship drama, and cultural misunderstandings, but the explicit advocacy at times interferes with an immersive reading experience and the text often feels repetitious. Maya’s mother is hijabi, and while Maya advocates against a hijab ban, she chooses not to wear hijab and actively wrestles with what it means to be an observant Muslim.

Best leave it at maybe so. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293704-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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