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PICTURE PERFECT

A contemporary teen watches her “picture perfect” family nearly disintegrate when her mother unexpectedly leaves. Fourteen-year-old Phoebe’s mother Beth wins a trip to Las Vegas to attend her cosmetics company’s annual convention. But instead of returning home, Beth unilaterally accepts a “fabulous job in Las Vegas as a national Bee Beautiful spokeswoman” for an indefinite period. Left on their own, Phoebe and her family are in shock when an attractive widow moves into the house next door and into their lives. Phoebe instantly decides the widow is trying to take Beth’s place and resents her, but as weeks stretch into months, Phoebe also resents Beth for putting career before family. One thing after another threatens to further disrupt the family, but they gradually learn to accept life without Beth just in time for Beth to return home with cancer. Meanwhile, a more independent Phoebe starts high school and copes with her first crush. How Phoebe and her not-so-perfect family survive and emerge stronger makes this a rewarding read, despite a vaguely soap-ish plot. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 27, 2007

ISBN: 0-689-87390-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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LEGENDARY

From the Caraval series , Vol. 2

Dark, seductive, but over-the-top: Characters and book alike will enthrall those who choose to play.

Garber returns to the world of bestseller Caraval (2017), this time with the focus on younger, more daring sister Donatella.

Valenda, capital of the empire, is host to the second of Legend’s magical games in a single year, and while Scarlett doesn’t want to play again, blonde Tella is eager for a chance to prove herself. She is haunted by the memory of her death in the last game and by the cursed Deck of Destiny she used as a child which foretold her loveless future. Garber has changed many of the rules of her expanding world, which now appears to be infused with magic and evil Fates. Despite a weak plot and ultraviolet prose (“He tasted like exquisite nightmares and stolen dreams, like the wings of fallen angels, and bottles of fresh moonlight.”), this is a tour de force of imagination. Themes of love, betrayal, and the price of magic (and desire) swirl like Caraval’s enchantments, and Dante’s sensuous kisses will thrill readers as much as they do Tella. The convoluted machinations of the Prince of Hearts (one of the Fates), Legend, and even the empress serve as the impetus for Tella’s story and set up future volumes which promise to go bigger. With descriptions focusing primarily on clothing, characters’ ethnicities are often indeterminate.

Dark, seductive, but over-the-top: Characters and book alike will enthrall those who choose to play. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09531-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. 

Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. 

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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