DRIVING LESSONS

Mattie Lewis, 14, has been banished to South Dakota for the summer in a story that perfectly captures the voice, the thoughts, and the personality of an unhappy teenager. Mattie’s mother needs time to herself to finish her master’s thesis, so Mattie is shipped off to White Stone, South Dakota, a small town where Mattie’s great-grandmother had lived all her life, her house now being turned into a museum by the local historical society. Mattie, who hasn’t been to White Stone since she was eight, deeply resents being dumped for the summer. She suspects that a large part of her mother’s desire to have the summer to herself is so she can spend as much time as possible with Henry, her serious (and to Mattie, seriously boring and annoying) boyfriend. To Mattie’s surprise, she comes to enjoy the work at her great-grandmother’s house and enjoys digging around in her family’s past. Also, much to her amazement and delight, Mattie has her first real relationship with a boy. Although she feels uncomfortable with the local kids to whom she’s been introduced, she has an immediate bond with Lester, 17, a fellow summer exile to South Dakota—in his case, as punishment for a spot of trouble involving joyriding in a car. Mattie sees the summer, and especially her relationship with Lester, as a chance to reinvent herself. Instead of being the good girl who dutifully does as she’s told, maybe for once, it will be Mattie who breaks the rules and gets into trouble. “ ‘I might screw up this summer,’ Mattie said, suddenly inspired. ‘If I’m here long enough.’ ” The joys and pains of teenage romance are realistically and honestly described and the author accurately captures the ambivalent nature of the relationship between a mother and her adolescent daughter. Here is a girl who is torn between wanting her mother to take care of her and wanting her to realize she’s growing up, a captivating and charming protagonist with whom many readers will instantly identify. Beautifully written, thoroughly engaging, and very believable. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0515-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more