BEAUTIFUL

Seventeen-year-old Ellie is a lovely overachiever who sets lofty standards for herself and those around her, perhaps one of the reasons she rejects her jock-boyfriend Ryan’s highly romantic overtures and has drifted apart from her slightly younger, aggressively imperfect sister, Megan. After fighting with Ryan, Ellie is seriously burned in a tragic accident, and the book’s subtitle, “Truth’s found when beauty’s lost,” sums up the message. As Ellie’s recovery progresses haltingly, Ryan and Megan are very supportive, but she rejects their efforts and questions her faith. Home from the hospital, she is forced to make hard decisions about her now-uncertain future. The third-person narration alternates between the sisters with occasional excerpts from an anonymous blog providing additional insight. Characters are generally believable, and Ellie’s difficult recovery and boyfriend issues will provide fodder for discussion. While the message usually refrains from overpowering the predictable, sometimes slow-paced story line, a pointless subplot centered around a grandfather who loved Megan but detested Ellie weakens the narrative. Still, an acceptable purchase for Christian literature collections. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59554-357-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate.

LOVE, HATE AND OTHER FILTERS

High school senior Maya Aziz works up the courage to tell her parents that she’s gotten into the film school of her dreams in New York City, but their expectations combined with anti-Muslim backlash from a terror attack threaten to derail her dream.

Maya, the only brown girl in her school with the only immigrant parents, loves parts of her Indian culture but blames everything she thinks she can’t have on her cultural constraints and on the fact that she’s different. Time is running out to break the news to her parents that her filmmaking is more than just a hobby. Meanwhile, two potential love interests command her attention. Her matchmaking parents like Kareem, an intriguing young Indian man Maya meets and dates, while Phil, a white classmate who’s been her longtime crush, remains a secret from her parents. Interspersed with Maya’s intimate first-person account are brief, cinematic interludes tracking a disturbed young man who commits a terror attack. First reports blame someone who shares Maya’s last name, and the backlash they suffer leads her parents to restrict Maya’s options. Maya is not especially religious, but she is forced to grapple with her Muslim identity as bullying takes a dangerous turn. Her feelings of entrapment within her parents’ dreams are laid on thick, and Maya herself notes a clichéd moment or two in her story, but the core relationships are authentic and memorable, and the conclusion is satisfying.

A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61695-847-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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Great worldbuilding but not entirely satisfying.

STAR DAUGHTER

When half-star/half-human Sheetal Mistry accidently injures her father, she needs to ascend to Svargalok, the abode of the stars, to find him a cure.

Just shy of 17, Sheetal has brown skin like her human father, Gautam, and silver hair like her star mother, Charumati, but she has never truly known what it means to be a star. Her human, Gujarati family in New Jersey insists she hide her star heredity, as stars were once hunted by mortals for their silver blood, which has healing properties. As a result, Sheetal knows very little of her ancestry or what she is truly capable of. Following the accident that puts her father in the hospital, Sheetal and her best friend, Minal, go in search of Charumati for a drop of star’s blood to cure her father. Unfortunately for her, Nana and Nani—the Esteemed Patriarch and Matriarch of their constellation, Pushya, and Sheetal’s maternal grandparents—agree to save her father only if she wins a competition that will allow their family to rule over the other constellations. Loosely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (1997) and Hindu mythology, Thakrar’s debut covers the lives of stars, an unnecessarily complicated romance, and a half-star’s journey toward self-discovery. Refreshingly, all the characters are Indian or of Indian origin. Despite the fascinating premise, however, several characters lack the luster and conviction which would have otherwise added much-needed depth and heart to the novel.

Great worldbuilding but not entirely satisfying.  (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289462-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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