An intriguing story with broad appeal.

SAFE HARBOUR

Fourteen-year-old Harbour Mandrayke, a home-schooled teen from Florida, spends the summer waiting in Toronto for her father to arrive on his sailboat.

Harbour, whose Canadian mother is deceased, and her trusty furry companion, Tuff Stuff, live by their wits, camping in a ravine. She’s armed with her dad’s quirky summer reading list and the resources of the local library. However, Harbour’s father is weeks late from his scheduled arrival date, and her credit card has been declined. Deeply in denial, Harbour meets Lise Roberts, a street-wise 16-year-old with locs, eyebrow rings, and a beautiful smile, who knows how to navigate the Toronto streets and shelters. Lise’s expertise comes in handy as winter approaches and Harbour’s damp, cold tent makes daily life nearly impossible. Harbour’s study of philosophical greats like Paramahansa Yogananda helps her learn to read people and build the patience and resolve to endure the harshest winter she’s ever experienced while dependent on the whims of strangers. Trust issues and dark family secrets threaten to shake Harbour and Lise’s budding friendship in this gritty, highly engaging, realistic mystery that captures the harsh realities of homeless teens in crisis. This plot-driven novel with well-drawn characters will pull readers into a devastating tale of intrigue and redemption. Fans of Homecoming by Cynthia Voight (1981) and Roam by C.H. Armstrong (2019) will appreciate this book. Characters are assumed white.

An intriguing story with broad appeal. (Mystery. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4597-4518-6

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Dundurn

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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