Lovers of hip, edgy or meta should look elsewhere, but this story carries its own brand of modest delight for the right...

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FROM WILLA, WITH LOVE

FROM THE LIFE OF WILLA HAVISHAM

Crammed with incident, yet loose and rambling and without much dramatic arc, this slice-of-life novel, the sixth in the series, charts Willa’s life, loves and personal growth though part of an event-filled summer.

There’s something refreshing and rather fabulous about the slightly dull Willa Havisham books (Willa by Heart, 2008, etc.). They star the nicest, most well-adjusted, dependable 14-year-old in the world, a book-loving girl who does her chores in the family business with good grace, loves the nurturing, community-minded adults in her life and strives to be the best person she can be. She doesn’t wear Jimmy Choos, obsess about her weight or, heaven forbid, smoke (anything); instead she tries to come up with a charitable project that’s really her. Not to say there’s no conflict. Willa wrestles with her feelings about her once-best friend, has minor disagreements with her driven businesswoman mother and is distressed (but also exhilarated) when she finds herself attracted to two boys at the same time. Set in a charming, fictional Cape Cod community, the story strolls along, never generating a great deal of heat or suspense, yet managing to keep readers involved and interested.

Lovers of hip, edgy or meta should look elsewhere, but this story carries its own brand of modest delight for the right reader. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-09405-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced.

THE ALWAYS WAR

For the past 75 years, Tessa’s nation has been at war—a war that has no end in sight.

Tessa lives in a community of weary people, visibly crushed by endless years of combat. They are numb; war is commonplace. But when a local boy receives an award for bravery—the nation’s highest—it lifts the city. Everyone, especially Tessa, desperately needs a hero. But Gideon shocks the town by refusing the honor. He declares himself a coward and runs away. He has killed more than 1,000 people; there is no honor in that. But that’s what war is, isn’t it? Killing the enemy is necessary. Gideon infuriates Tessa, but she is inexplicably curious as well. She follows him and ends up on a plane, with Gideon steering it straight toward the enemy line. He hopes to apologize, to atone for his mistakes, but what he and Tessa (along with a stowaway orphan named Dek) find when they open the plane’s door changes the plan dramatically. This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative—Tessa or the computer.

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced. (Dystopia. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9526-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the...

THE MOST DANGEROUS THING

An eleventh-grade girl wants to start a relationship but is stymied by depression and anxiety.

Syd knows her depression isn’t really out of control, like some people’s. She can usually manage the crushing fog that weighs her down: tricking herself into getting out of bed by playing the phone game; biking around Vancouver, British Columbia, until she’s exhausted; investing online with her cantankerous grandfather; eating just enough to get by. It works well enough until her lab partner, Paul, starts texting and flirting. Syd would respond in kind if she could, but she’s afraid to make eye contact or have conversations with new people—how could she possibly start a relationship? Fading into the background would be ideal, but her gregarious family has other plans. Her mother, revitalizing the family Passover celebration, ropes Syd into embarrassing Jewish singalongs. Worse, Syd’s vivacious sister wants to perform The Vagina Monologues for the school drama festival, and she’s written her own monologue—one that uses “the c-word”! The oozing darkness that dominates Syd’s thoughts is authentically represented in her present-tense narration and appropriately addressed with professional mental health treatment. Frustratingly, however, Syd’s nervousness about romantic and sexual intimacy is pathologized as a curable symptom of her mental illness.

An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the flavor for a tale of recovery and empowerment . (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1184-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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