Melodrama for the selfie generation

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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