A love letter to the intricacies of family and multitudinous black girlhood.

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HOME AND AWAY

Eighteen-year-old Tasia struggles with uncertainty around identity and family in Montgomery’s debut novel.

Tasia Lynn Quirk is certain she knows exactly who she is—the daughter of a loving, financially well-off family, a confident and successful black private school senior, a kick-ass, and the only girl on her high school’s football team. The arrival of a mysterious box makes her solid world fly apart when she discovers that her biological father is not the black man who raised her but a white man named Merrick. Reeling from the betrayal and violent shift in her identity, Taze impulsively seeks out Merrick and his family as she tries to navigate the new chaos of her life. Montgomery’s thoughtful craft is driven by immediacy and tension and grounded in emotional authenticity. The depth of 21st-century young adult complexity is effortlessly inscribed in Taze’s character, including the frustrations and exhilaration of football, the complicated intensity of a new romantic relationship with a bisexual boy, the negotiation of the intersecting tensions of racism, colorism, sexism, and classism, and the difficult path to family healing. The juxtaposition of Taze’s exploration of her black biracial identity alongside the unfettered diversity of identity and experiences among the supporting cast goes beyond refreshing all the way to restorative for readers weary of the search for intersectional mirrors.

A love letter to the intricacies of family and multitudinous black girlhood. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62414-595-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

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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