A fresh take on gentrification and the impact it has on both individuals and community.

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BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY

A college freshman reunites with an old crush and battles family obligations.

Torrence McKenzie is poor, black, and gay, and he has not had it easy; his father abandoned him as a baby, his mom is in a medically induced coma, the uncle who raised him was shot by police, and with no other family available, he has been living with his homophobic grandad. Torrey hopes San Francisco State University will be a fresh start—a true escape miles away from Baldwin Hills. But Torrey is barely moved into his dorm when his aunt calls to tell him that the beloved apiary his uncle left him is being seized by the city due to a failure to pay taxes. With developers pressuring him to abandon the bee farm and the deadline to drop classes looming, Torrey has to decide—this new beginning for himself or his uncle’s dream. The author breaks the fourth wall with quippy asides and shade as Torrey struggles to figure out what to do; sometimes it works and other times it’s distracting and feels more suited to formats such as social media or TV. At times the sequence of past events is confusing, but a diverse cast of supporting characters, including a biracial (black and Brazilian) love interest, is a strength of the book.

A fresh take on gentrification and the impact it has on both individuals and community. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-799-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence.

WATCH OVER ME

After a horrific domestic violence incident, Zoey Ward and her family finally find their footing in Las Vegas only to have their lives overturned by a house fire.

Learning that her father has been recently released from prison, Zoey suspects he had something to do with the blaze. After their lives go up in flames, literally, Zoey along with her mom and her younger siblings, Kate and Cole, flee Las Vegas with the help of her older brother, Will, and his best friend, Tristan. They take refuge in California, where Tristan and his sister welcome them into a world where things seem hopeful and more stable than anything they have ever known. Yet the fear of being hunted down by her father consumes Zoey. The story is narrated from Zoey’s and Tristan’s first-person perspectives, and Gray (Run Away With Me, 2017, etc.) has masterfully captured the uncertainty and terror that come from domestic violence. Tristan and Zoey share a budding romance in which Zoey slowly but surely learns to love and be loved in a nondestructive, healthy way despite her fears and reservations. With everything she has been through, Zoey is the underdog readers will find themselves rooting for. Gray spares no detail in this intense tale. All characters are assumed to be white; Tristan is dyslexic, and there are several queer characters.

An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4281-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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