An underdeveloped but entertaining read.

RIVER MERMAID

This novel in verse charts an aspiring sculptor’s life-changing year.

The only child of a world-renowned sculptor mom and art dealer dad, 16-year-old Mercedes has already charted her own artistic future. But, unexpectedly denied admission to Wildwood Fine Arts School, her mom’s alma mater and Vancouver’s premier high school for the arts, Mercedes’ confidence evaporates. She abandons her artistic career dreams and ignores school art assignments. Her art teacher warns her she’s failing but believes that if Mercedes reengages with her art, she might have a chance of getting into Wildwood next year. Remaining conflicted about her career choices, Mercedes lets Sandra, her extravert BFF, talk her into pursuing her secret crush on her classmate Ellis. Despite an embarrassing start, romance ensues. At home, Mercedes’ fears about her workaholic parents (who both discount her mom’s worsening headaches) prove justified after her mom has a terrifying seizure. Struggling to get her artistic groove back, Mercedes turns to her mom for inspiration. Gracefully written, the novel goes just deep enough to illuminate the depths it frustratingly declines to explore, such as Mercedes’ fraught relationship with her (underwritten) father; her mother’s counterculture affinities; and above all, art itself. Beyond the fact that it’s her affluent family’s business, what motivates Mercedes to make art is a mystery. Most characters present White; Ellis is biracial (Japanese and implied White).

An underdeveloped but entertaining read. (Verse novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-989724-10-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crwth Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Comfortingly familiar page-turning suspense.

DON'T LET IN THE COLD

A Tahoe blizzard is the setting of Parrack’s debut.

Seventeen-year-old Lottie, a White English girl who’s been repeatedly let down by her flighty Mum, isn’t happy about spending the night alone in a remote cabin with her quiet, nature-loving new stepsister, 15-year-old Black American Jade, while their parents go on their honeymoon. They’ve only met three times before and haven’t exactly clicked. Then again, it’s only one night. How bad could it be? Then the power goes out and the stranger arrives. Alex, described generically as Asian, is tall and charming and claims to have lost his way—he’s just a boy walking his dog. However, his story is full of holes, and before long Lottie suspects he’s hiding something. Just as she confronts him, a fire breaks out in the cabin, and Lottie, Jade, and Alex are forced out into the cold and snow with only each other to rely on; one night on their own turns into a dayslong struggle for survival. It’s unfortunate that encounters with a bear, a mountain lion, and an avalanche are nothing compared to the human threat stalking them through the wild white wilderness. Lottie’s first-person narration is generic, but the action is fast-paced, with just enough romantic tension between Lottie and Alex to keep it interesting, while the tentative nature of Lottie and Jade’s new sister relationship fades quickly as they learn to rely on and appreciate each other.

Comfortingly familiar page-turning suspense. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-676-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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