LIVING ON IMPULSE

With her life spinning out of control, an unfocused teen searches for the person she wants to be and eventually finds her. Fifteen-year-old Mia lives in a college town in rural New York with her disgruntled single-parent mother and her ailing grandfather, who has high hopes for his granddaughter. But Mia eschews school, refusing to believe college is the only thing she can do with her life. Living on impulse, Mia’s arrested for shoplifting, insults her teacher, offends her friends and is forced to take a disgusting part-time job breeding flies in the entomology lab. But as her friends disown her, her grandfather fails and her mother resorts to alcohol, Mia learns an important lesson from the fly life-cycle and starts building her own cocoon to survive. Developed with realism, humor and insight in a colloquial third-person voice, Mia’s flawed character proves credible. Her transformation story brims with loss and forgiveness as she painfully discovers “change can happen really fast for people” when they start making good choices instead of bad. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-525-42137-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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A sweet, undemanding summer read.

SUNKISSED

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Avery unexpectedly finds romance on a family vacation.

Avery’s family spends their summers away from Los Angeles, enjoying the outdoors; this year it will be two months at a remote resort in the California woods. Her 15-year-old sister, Lauren, an outgoing video blogger, is distraught by the camp’s lack of internet access while go-with-the-flow Avery is just hoping for no drama, upset after having found out her best friend kissed her ex-boyfriend. An initial miscommunication makes things tense with handsome camp staff member Brooks—until Avery agrees to help him write songs for a band competition in exchange for his helping her step out of her comfort zone. Of course, staff aren’t supposed to fraternize with campers, which leads to much sneaking around, though Avery and her sister attend several staff parties thanks to befriending lifeguard Maricela and drummer Kai. Avery learns to find her voice, both metaphorically—she feels her parents don’t take her seriously—and literally, as she must overcome her stage fright when asked to step in for the vocalist in Brooks’ band when they compete in the festival. Avery’s complicated relationship with her family feels underdeveloped, though the love story with Brooks hits all the right notes. Fans of West will enjoy this watered-down Dirty Dancing tale, with its swoony romance and uncomplicated plot. Most characters are White; Maricela is implied Latinx, and Kai is Polynesian.

A sweet, undemanding summer read. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17626-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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