Fans of the trilogy will be delighted to revisit both the Schwenks and Red Bend, Wisc.

READ REVIEW

HEAVEN IS PAVED WITH OREOS

Fourteen-year-old Sarah discovers first love and family secrets in this sweet-as-a-cookie Dairy Queen companion for slightly younger readers.

Sarah Zorn, D.J. Schwenk’s brother Curtis’ science-fair partner, had bit parts in the Dairy Queen trilogy, but she takes center stage in Murdock’s latest. Even though it’s summer, Sarah and Curtis are preparing for their ninth-grade science-fair project: waiting for Boris, a calf born dead, to decay. In narrator Sarah’s mind, they are just friends. Curtis, with typical Schwenk communication problems, tells Sarah he wants a real girlfriend just as Sarah’s hippie grandmother, Z, invites her to Rome. In a series of journals, introduced by black-and-white images of Rome, Sarah describes both the pilgrimage to seven churches of Rome—a pilgrimage that Z had not quite completed 46 years before as an art student—and her growing awareness of “boy-liking” feelings for Curtis. Advice from D.J., who has a minor but comforting chauffeuring role, helps Sarah mature, as does having to be responsible for the increasingly erratic Z as reasons for her pilgrimage become evident. This coming-of-age novel with an endearingly naïve narrator unfortunately bogs down midway under the weight of Roman church history. The cover, cleverly connecting Oreos and cows, will attract preteens.

Fans of the trilogy will be delighted to revisit both the Schwenks and Red Bend, Wisc. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-62538-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced.

THE ALWAYS WAR

For the past 75 years, Tessa’s nation has been at war—a war that has no end in sight.

Tessa lives in a community of weary people, visibly crushed by endless years of combat. They are numb; war is commonplace. But when a local boy receives an award for bravery—the nation’s highest—it lifts the city. Everyone, especially Tessa, desperately needs a hero. But Gideon shocks the town by refusing the honor. He declares himself a coward and runs away. He has killed more than 1,000 people; there is no honor in that. But that’s what war is, isn’t it? Killing the enemy is necessary. Gideon infuriates Tessa, but she is inexplicably curious as well. She follows him and ends up on a plane, with Gideon steering it straight toward the enemy line. He hopes to apologize, to atone for his mistakes, but what he and Tessa (along with a stowaway orphan named Dek) find when they open the plane’s door changes the plan dramatically. This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative—Tessa or the computer.

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced. (Dystopia. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9526-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here.

INFINITE SKY

Tragedy emerges from the commonplace miseries of everyday life in this evocative mood piece.

Thirteen-year-old Iris lives with her dad and older brother, Sam, in rural England. Until recently, Iris and Sam had a mum as well, but she’s taken off to Tunisia on a mission to find herself. Now Sam’s associating with ruffians, Dad’s taken to drinking, and Iris is avoiding her best friend, unable to bear the smug pity. When a few caravans of Irish “travelers” squat illegally in Dad’s paddock, Iris sees the possibility of something fresh and untainted in her life. But Dad and Sam loathe the travelers, calling them “Gypsies,” “parasites” and worse. Iris strikes up a friendship—and maybe more?—with 14-year-old Trick, but her father becomes increasingly erratic as he sees his control over his family slipping away. Her Dad repeatedly threatens eviction, and Iris must decide whom to believe in the face of petty crime. A senseless act of violence leads to heavily foreshadowed tragedy. This brief, gloomy debut concludes tidily though with an unclear trajectory: After a summer’s adventure, everyone’s right where they started yet nothing’s the same, mirroring the intransigence of hate.

Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0658-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more