Pensive teen readers might appreciate the book’s philosophical questions about the concept of advaita, the recognition of...

STRANGE GIRL

An enigmatic new arrival turns the life of a high school rocker upside down.

When beautiful, mysterious Aja arrives in Fred’s town, he is intrigued, quickly falling in love with her and her strange ways. Referred to in her native Brazil as “Pequena Maga,” or “Little Magician,” Aja has the whole town gossiping about her special abilities, and after witnessing the miraculous recovery of a friend while in Aja’s presence, Fred begins to believe, too. Enthralled and protective, Fred spends much of his time shielding Aja from a snooping reporter and the scrutiny of the town; however, the stakes never seem high, and the book lacks tension. With phrases such as “she’s a looker” and “swinging chick,” both Fred’s narration and the dialogue sound dated and result in an inauthentic teen voice. Perhaps to compensate for this weakness, the book name-drops pop-culture references like The Walking Dead and Jay Z and 50 Cent. Pike gamely attempts to address hot-button issues like sexuality and race, but the discussions around these topics are both obvious and didactic. On the issue of race, the book is regressive and falls back on negative tropes by turning a significant black character into the Magical Negro.

Pensive teen readers might appreciate the book’s philosophical questions about the concept of advaita, the recognition of one’s “true self,” but this work better suits Pike’s original fans—fans who are far removed from the teenage experience. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5059-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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