Melodrama for the selfie generation

STONE FIELD

Civil War battles have already scarred deeply divided Missouri but barely touched the Ozarks when Catrina falls in love with a naked stranger making crop circles on her family’s farm.

Despite his amnesia (Cat names him Stonefield), it’s instant love for him, too. He’s dark—part African-American or Creek, perhaps—and speaks in quotations from Shakespeare and Walt Whitman. They act out their love within the natural world they revere until his returning memories of loss and ill-treatment come between them. Opposing forces accumulate. Cat’s depression over her mother’s accidental death deepens as Stonefield abandons her, joining forces with a savage white man. Enlisting in the Union Army, Cat’s brother—who suspects Stonefield of Confederate sympathies—pushes her to marry the new preacher. Cat’s passion for nature and her tempestuous emotions are compellingly portrayed, but style can’t compensate for what’s missing: characters worth caring about and a plot that makes sense. Here’s where the intended Wuthering Heights high concept fails. Cathy and Heathcliff were raised on the Yorkshire moors, their love deep-rooted, witnessed and recounted by others, unlike Catrina and Stonefield. Like all narrators, Cat directs readers to what she cares about. Complex Muscogee Creek history, slavery, life in war-torn Missouri, her father’s health, and her brother’s safety are so much narrative scenery. Only Stonefield matters to her, and even then she seems to care less about who he is than how he makes her feel.

Melodrama for the selfie generation . (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-069-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture.

THE LAST LEGACY

Since the moment Bryn was born, she was destined to take her place among the Roths.

Even after her parents died and she was taken to live with her great-aunt Sariah in Nimsmire, far away from the filth of the big city and the infamous Roth reputation, Bryn was destined to eventually become wrapped up in her family’s less-than-proper line of work—which was the cause of her parents’ deaths. When she returns to the city of Bastian on her 18th birthday, something she has eagerly anticipated after growing up in a small city under Sariah’s watchful eye, she is finally forced to come to terms with her identity and assume her rightful position in her family’s mysterious business. This feat would have been difficult enough on its own, for Bryn isn’t accustomed to her family members’ crude behavior, but she certainly isn’t prepared to meet the handsome, strong, brooding silversmith in her family’s employ; Ezra Finch definitely complicates things. This fast-paced tale with a Victorian feeling is filled with an abundance of scandal, high fashion, intrigue, and, of course, romance. While the large cast of characters is at times difficult to keep straight and the plot-driven prose would have benefited from more worldbuilding detail, the delightfully swoonworthy love story will keep readers engaged and the pages turning eagerly as they hurtle toward the book’s satisfying conclusion. Characters are White by default.

An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture. (family tree) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-82372-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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