A smart look at class that's undercut by its deemphasis of race. (Fiction. 12-16)

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GOING GEEK

An amiable yet insufferably class-obsessed LA teen copes with her family’s fall from wealth.

Skylar Hoffman waits tables at the same exclusive beach club she used to belong to because her parents’ incomes steadily dwindle. Her filmmaker mother, Lisa Chen, produced one teen blockbuster and hasn’t had another commercial success since; her father’s work as a graphic designer was “never that busy to begin with.” Huang spares readers the poverty porn of Skylar’s family coping with their downsized fortunes in such a wealth- and image-obsessed place as LA. Instead, she makes Skylar’s struggle with this new normal the story’s ongoing metaphor as she lies by omission and commission about her circumstances to her New England old-money classmates at tony Winthrop Academy, a boarding school near Boston, and the subsequent repercussions. In the process, Skylar, who might be mixed-race Asian-American judging by her parents’ names, also challenges the model-minority stereotypes of the financially comfortable and academically excellent Asians. However, in taking on these negative images, the author tends to not indicate characters of color except for hints in their names, like boyfriend Leo Diaz—a few noted exceptions being ambiguous physical descriptions of Skylar’s guidance counselor, Ms. Randall, and dorm mate Raksmey, along with fellow students C.J., who comes from mainland China, and Yasmin, from United Arab Emirates.

A smart look at class that's undercut by its deemphasis of race. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53943-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss...

TELL ME THREE THINGS

Jessie’s unassimilated grief over her mother’s death makes her dad’s abrupt marriage to Rachel, a wealthy widow he met online, and their subsequent move from Chicago to her mansion in Los Angeles feel like betrayal.

Rachel’s son wants nothing to do with Jessie. Her first week at his private school is agonizing. When she gets an email from “Somebody Nobody,” claiming to be a male student in the school and offering to act as her “virtual spirit guide,” Jessie’s suspicious, but she accepts—she needs help. SN’s a smart, funny, supportive guide, advising her whom to befriend and whom to avoid while remaining stubbornly anonymous. Meanwhile, Jessie makes friends, is picked as study partner by the coolest guy in AP English, and finds a job in a bookstore, working with the owner’s son, Liam. But questions abound. Why is Liam’s girlfriend bullying her? What should she do about SN now that she’s crushing on study-partner Ethan? Readers will have answers long before Jessie does. It’s overfamiliar territory: a protagonist unaware she’s gorgeous, oblivious to male admiration; a jealous, mean-girl antagonist; a secret admirer, easily identified. It’s the authentic depiction of grief—how Jessie and other characters respond to loss, get stuck, struggle to break through—devoid of cliché, that will keep readers engaged. Though one of Jessie’s friends has a Spanish surname, rich, beautiful, mostly white people are the order of the day.

Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss when life itself means inevitable change. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53564-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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