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THREE BLACK SWANS

Cooney, who has a great interest in families pushed to the edge by anomalous situations, tells the story of best-friend first cousins and a third girl who realizes that she has a surprising connection to both of them. Missy, outgoing and un-academic, talks her quieter and more studious cousin Claire, whom she closely resembles physically, into pretending to be her twin for an unusual class assignment—to create a believable hoax. The tension gears up when the hoax video goes viral and catches the eye of a third girl, who bares an uncanny resemblance to the two cousins. Their meeting and the secret the three girls eventually unearth changes their notion of self and the shape of their families. Cooney devises copious explanations to give her tale credibility, but it's a hard story to swallow. However, the ending, full of good intentions yet unresolved and uncomfortable feelings, is thoughtfully realistic. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-73867-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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THE DARE

Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans.

Marley, who’s on the cusp of graduating from high school, looks forward to going to college in California, but first, she must endure senior prank week.

What began as a harmless tradition to annoy the hapless school principal has evolved into a more serious series of pranks and dares orchestrated by the five Wilder brothers: Everett, Emmett, Rhett, Garrett, and Truett. Rhett, who’s Marley’s former friend, is leading this year’s pranks and imposing severe consequences on non-participants. When their dare results in tragedy for a group of friends—Marley, Luce, Jesse, and Atlas (Marley’s boyfriend)—they make a pact to keep what happened a secret. Marley continues to be wracked with self-reproach, however, and paranoia and guilt begin to tear the teens’ friendships apart. It’s crucial for readers to approach the book with suspension of disbelief, because the characters sometimes act without clear motivation and at other times seem to understand who’s responsible for events based on very flimsy evidence. The dialogue also becomes repetitive at points. While this may not be Preston’s strongest work, her dedicated followers will find in it the suspenseful approach they love. Luce is cued Latine; Atlas reads Black, and the rest of the characters present white.

Unlikely to gain the author any new readers but will appeal to her fans. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593704066

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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