THE SLEDDING HILL

Eddie’s “high-speed randomness” and habit of blurting outlandish questions at school and church are unappreciated. Within three months, Eddie discovers the bodies of the two most reassuring people in his life: his dad and his best friend Billie. Traumatized, lonely and scared, Eddie elects the safety of mutism. In death, Billie continues to watch over Eddie. Unnerved by this haunting, Eddie turns to the refuge of conservative religion. When his fundamentalist minister tries to enlist Eddie in a crusade to ban a novel from the school, Eddie emails the author requesting a letter to be read at the school board hearing. Enter Crutcher as the author of the banned book . . . a character in his own story. This sly conceit works for Crutcher who disarmingly pokes fun at himself. Weaving together Eddie’s personal survival and his losing battle against censorship, this succeeds by limning its polemics with artful humor. This oft-censored author entertains, inspires, invites intellectual inquiry and concedes well-meaning motives to both sides . . . a lot to pack into a novel, but when did Crutcher ever pack light? (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-050243-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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