Riveting and unforgettable.

WHAT BEAUTY THERE IS

“If you had one chance to save everything that mattered to you, would you grab hold of it?

When Jack, 17, comes home from school to find his mother hanging from a ceiling fan, his first concern, once he realizes he cannot save her, is to protect his brother, second grader Matty. Jack’s been holding the family’s increasingly untenable situation together for 7 years, since his meth-dealing daddy went to prison and his mama spiraled into addiction. Now Mama’s dead, Child Protective Services is calling, and their house is about to be auctioned. The only way out Jack can see is to find the briefcase of drug money his father supposedly hid before his arrest. Meanwhile, a second narrative voice, opening each chapter, is revealed to be that of Ava, daughter of Jack’s father’s partner in crime. Ava knows her father is a murderer and a psychopath whom she’ll never escape; Jack remembers, but can no longer connect with, a father who loved him. Ava understands their connection though Jack does not—she aligns herself with Jack and his search in an effort to break free of her fate despite believing his efforts are doomed. Intense, brutal, and searingly honest, Anderson’s debut features intricate plotting and action that hold up against the best thriller novels, yet it is all the more remarkable for its tender, multidimensional characterization and sharp, crystalline prose. Main characters read as White.

Riveting and unforgettable. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26809-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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