Still, the conclusion is a satisfying one that cleverly works in her musical ability, and readers with a penchant for the...

THE GATHERING DARK

Dark matter is imagined as an alternate universe, existing in an uneasy symbiosis with reality in this intriguing but overlong paranormal romance.

Keira, a talented pianist, dreams of escaping her small Maine town and her perpetually arguing parents. Her relentless focus on music leaves little time for other pursuits, including boys, so she is as much apprehensive as electrified when she meets the charismatic Walker. She’s also horrified when, soon after their encounter, she begins seeing strange things—first just an unusual piece of fruit on the kitchen counter that disappears when she tries to touch it, but soon, they are larger and more elaborate visions that eventually cannot be ignored. Keira’s smart, witty third-person voice provides balance for the somewhat goofy premise, and she’s a refreshingly strong character, even as she’s inexorably drawn to Walker. (She exclaims at one point, “But I don’t like being the kind of girl who needs a guy to save her.”) However, it’s obvious from the onset that there is some kind of otherworldly force pulling them toward each other, and the question of exactly why drags on too long.

Still, the conclusion is a satisfying one that cleverly works in her musical ability, and readers with a penchant for the genre will enjoy both the tortured romance and its eventual resolution. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3903-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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