Despite its shortcomings, this important and timely novel is a painful, lovely exploration of mending a mother-daughter...



A mother and daughter with a strained relationship cope with the legacy of horrific violence.

Zara is the daughter of an interfaith marriage between her mostly secular parents: a Bosnian Muslim mother and white Catholic father. She is an ordinary American girl in many ways despite her fraught relationship with her traumatized mother—Zara knows that Nadja was a refugee, but her mother’s emotional distance has stopped her from learning the details of her past. An ISIS bombing at a Rhode Island farmers market leaves Zara wounded and her mother comatose but also opens up the path for Zara to finally understand her mother’s story. At the hospital she develops a close friendship with a spiritually seeking, biracial (Haitian and Irish) boy who is there visiting his grandmother. Interwoven chapters tell the story of Nadja in 1990s Bosnia, where she was an equally ordinary adolescent, treasuring mix tapes from her Serbian boyfriend. But the Bosnian War changes everything, and Nadja finds herself a survivor of genocide, having experienced crimes so horrific she’s blocked them out. Ethnic and religious conflict among modern Europeans contrasts sharply with racist Islamophobia in Zara’s contemporary New England. The search for faith and meaning pervades the story, but, disappointingly, the narrative too often filters spirituality through Western and Christian lenses. The long, complex history of the South Slavs is also overly simplified.

Despite its shortcomings, this important and timely novel is a painful, lovely exploration of mending a mother-daughter relationship. (author’s note, bibliography, glossary) (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-17554-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst.


When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration.

When the Tap-Out hits and the state’s entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it’s his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative’s intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)—the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers’ fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters’ identities open.

Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8196-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A purple page turner.


From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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