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Occasionally pulled off course by tangential threads and underdeveloped characters, Linc’s struggle to chart her own future,...

Artistically gifted, academically challenged Linc is the biological child of white professional parents who wish Linc could be more like her black, transracially adopted sister, Holly—smart, athletic, popular.

Holly’s adoption from a Ghanaian orphanage was underway when Linc, four months younger, was conceived. Once close, the sisters’ paths have diverged. Linc’s on academic probation at their private school, where Holly’s an academic superstar even while juggling a boyfriend, student government, and soccer. Linc’s growing missteps (suggestive of ADD) trigger parental strictures and scolding lectures; her pleas for photography classes and transfer to an arts-focused school are vetoed. Revisiting Central Park’s Seneca Village site—a 19th-century community of freed blacks and European immigrants—where she and Holly played as children, Linc’s inspired to use photography to tell its history (its pre-European inhabitants aren’t mentioned) for a school project. Park and library visits provide useful cover for secret photography classes and a romance with classmate and fellow artist Silas. Linc’s solitary journey is convincing, but Holly, the only adopted character, never comes into focus. The questions and uncertainties she shares with Linc (wishing they’d visited her orphanage on the family’s trip to Ghana, wondering about her birth mother) remain fundamentally unexplored. Holly remains an enigma, her character arc peripheral (her image is omitted from the cover), her story half-told.

Occasionally pulled off course by tangential threads and underdeveloped characters, Linc’s struggle to chart her own future, unfolding in graceful verse, makes a compelling read. (Fiction.13-17)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-54744-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst.

When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration.

When the Tap-Out hits and the state’s entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it’s his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative’s intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)—the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers’ fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters’ identities open.

Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8196-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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