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

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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