Vivid descriptions of the unusual landscape of Santorini will fascinate readers looking for a good travelogue, and the...

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MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE

Two former best friends raised by families with markedly different values take a trip to Greece in this poignant story that is centered around themes of sexuality, acceptance and belonging.

High school junior Colette has grown weary of following the rules dictated to her by her conservative, religious family and longs for more physical involvement with her boyfriend and a chance to break out of her nice-girl role. And though she has other friends, she has felt adrift since Sadie, her closest childhood friend, mysteriously dropped her years earlier. When Sadie extends the unexpected and perplexing invitation to join her family on the Greek island of Santorini, Colette feels compelled to go both out of loyalty and to shake up her own life. Emotionally rich characters make this an engaging drama that is as much about people finding places within their families as it is about the damage done by rigid adults to vulnerable kids. A romance that develops between Colette and one of Sadie’s older brothers is sweetly believable, though the eventual reveal of the overcomplicated reasoning behind Sadie’s selection of Colette to come on the trip is less so.

Vivid descriptions of the unusual landscape of Santorini will fascinate readers looking for a good travelogue, and the perceptive and heartfelt relationship dynamics will only add to the appeal. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59990-970-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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