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A well-crafted and engaging tale about a quartet of teens dealing with self-doubt and self-discovery in high school.

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The 10th grade brings big changes in the lives of four teenagers.

In this YA sequel, hardworking Luke—labeled poor white trash by bullies and the stern father of his supportive, caring Mexican-American girlfriend, Mia—is enjoying some academic success (although he’s still math-challenged). But his home situation with an abusive, alcoholic father and frail mother is about to reach a crisis point. While Mia is at the top of her class and is as industrious as poignant Luke, she feels even more parental pressure to excel and wonders how long she’ll be able to keep her father from finding out that the two teens are dating. Well-to-do black star athlete Marcus, after a humbling comedown in the first installment of the series, is gradually finding value in school, his teammates, and a girl who appreciates his new attitude. Bright Elly, a white girl whose parents have plenty of money, too, gains confidence in her looks, but her struggle with self-respect is evident in her choice of bad-news boyfriends. Ingram (Ninth Grade Blues, 2017, etc.), a high school English teacher, gives each of these four main characters an authentic, distinct voice, smoothly shifting back and forth among the teens’ first-person perspectives as events unfold over their sophomore year. Their experiences include parental physical abuse, bullying, alcohol-fueled partying, dating insecurities, a serious injury, deepening romantic relationships, unexpected friendships, and knowledge gained through academic and life lessons. As he did in his first book, Ingram has the teens cope with both admirable and flawed adults (including teachers) and issues involving peer pressure and support, love, and respect. There is no graphic content, but the teens, now a year older, believably wrestle with increased independence, more overt sexual awareness, exposure to risky behaviors, and thoughts of the future. As the school year ends, the author leaves the characters’ appealing and relatable stories open-ended, presumably to be continued in his next volume spanning the 11th grade.

A well-crafted and engaging tale about a quartet of teens dealing with self-doubt and self-discovery in high school.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944962-46-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Secant Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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In this Australian import, Marchetta gets the voice of teenage angst just right in a hormone saturated coming-of-age story. Josephine Alibrandi, 17 and of Italian descent, is torn between her traditional upbringing, embodied by both her immigrant grandmother and her overprotective mother, and the norms of teenage society. A scholarship student at an esteemed Catholic girls’ school, she struggles with feelings of inferiority not only because she’s poorer than the other students and an “ethnic,” but because her mother never married. These feelings are intensified when her father, whom she’s just met, enters and gradually becomes part of her life. As Josephine struggles to weave the disparate strands of her character into a cohesive tapestry of self, she discovers some unsavory family secrets, falls in love for the first time, copes with a friend’s suicide, and goes from being a follower to a leader. Although somewhat repetitive and overlong, this is a tender, convincing portrayal of a girl’s bumpy ride through late adolescence. Some of the Australian expressions may be unfamiliar to US readers, but the emotions translate perfectly. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30142-7

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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A child’s feelings of loneliness and isolation are eventually replaced with a longing for adventure in a mysterious book from Nascimbene (A Day in September, 1995, not reviewed). Sent to a boarding school in the Swiss Alps for the summer while her parents are vacationing, L£cia, homesick for S—o Paulo and family, remains detached from all activities until the day she hears distant hammering emanating from a local barn. Intrigued, L£cia discovers a kind farmer named Aldo behind the sound; he is keeping a secret from the outside world. Befriending the girl after she pours out her heart to him, Aldo decides to show her the large sailboat he has been building. L£cia, who renames all the wildflowers she finds according to her wishes, finds a wildflower she calls Ocean Deep and sends it to her parents, foreshadowing the dream she is to have later aboard Aldo’s boat; in this dream she sails close enough to her shipbound parents to wave at them. The beautifully conceived illustrations have a range of appearances, from the look of cut-paper silhouettes whose spaces have been washed in watercolor, to landscapes and seascapes with perspectives and of a simplicity of line associated with Japanese art. The typeface, though attractive, is a small size that makes this better for read-aloud sessions than reading alone; the story, long for a picture book, but deeply felt, is ripe for the interpretation of children. (Picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56846-161-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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