BEACHMONT LETTERS

While WWII rages on, Americans are making sacrifices to help the war effort; 17-year-old Eleanor Driscoll’s sacrifices are not optional. Severely burned in a fire while celebrating her 16th birthday, a fire that also claimed her devoted father, Eleanor now deals with averted eyes, ridicule, and the misconception that she’s now an invalid. What keeps Eleanor’s spirit alive is correspondence with Robert, a young soldier waiting to be sent to Europe, with whom she shares her thoughts and feelings—except those related to the fire. As she begins a summer job, makes new friends, and reveals her scarred face to the world more and more, she falls in love with Robert and trusts that he can accept her real self. When tragedy from the war strikes Eleanor’s ocean-front town, she observes how those around her deal with their own pain and grief and finds the determination to go on with life in her own bravery, gift for writing, and supportive family and friends. Twomey (Charlotte’s Choice, not reviewed) blends expressions and popular culture from the time period with realistic characters and sentiments. The author also develops many interesting story lines, from the details of the fire to Eleanor’s reverie and even anger toward her father to Robert’s own secret. Part historical fiction, part romance, this moving tale for teenage girls has a gratifying conclusion refreshingly free of clichés. (Historical fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-59078-050-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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