Like the riot-grrrl movement itself, unsubtle but full of heart.

A teenage outcast finds herself in the riot-grrrl scene.

White, fat high school sophomore Tabitha is bullied for her size and a sexual identity she has yet to claim, but she finds solace in punk music and her “absolute disdain for all that is mainstream.” Attending a Bikini Kill show, she’s handed a zine with information about a local riot-grrrl meeting, and after getting up the nerve to attend, she finds a group of young women working to smash the patriarchy through creativity, activism, and mutual support. She falls in with the group and comes out as bisexual, embarking on a relationship with white longtime member Kate. As their relationship grows rocky, Tabitha begins to develop a close friendship and intense chemistry with a new member of the group, Jackie, who is black and butch. Pack’s characters call out problematic behaviors and ideologies, and, while occasionally preachy and didactic, her book earnestly tackles biphobia, racism, and microaggressions, gender presentation, body image, and intersectionality. An author’s note written after the 2017 Women’s March on Washington situates the narrative in the early 1990s and explains the contemporary relevance of the riot-grrrl movement. Snippets reproduced from the characters’ zines are scattered between chapters, providing additional insights into their inner selves and an authentic replica of a cultural moment.

Like the riot-grrrl movement itself, unsubtle but full of heart. (Historical fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: June 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945053-21-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Duet

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017


Several yards short of a touchdown.

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020


From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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