Like its inspiration, Romeo and Juliet, this love story contains much drama and unfulfilled potential.

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ROMAN AND JEWEL

A teenage singer gets a backup role on Broadway and lessons in fame and love.

Sixteen-year-old Jerzie Jhames is a Black singer from New Jersey who dreams of being a Broadway star. She auditions for the role of Jewel in Roman and Jewel, a hip-hopera retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and is disappointed when she only gets the part of standby to superstar Cinny, who plays the lead. On her first day of rehearsals Jerzie meets Zeppelin, the musical’s Roman, and declares it love at first sight. When a video of Jerzie and Zeppelin singing a duet goes viral, Jerzie begins to realize that she may be in for more than she anticipated. Conflict arises when Cinny stakes her claim on Zeppelin and warns Jerzie to stay away from him. Despite her occasional resistance, Jerzie comes to find that she will need the support of her friends and family to help her navigate both Broadway and first love. Unfortunately Davis’ prose feels heavy-handed at points, and her execution of the story, restricted by attempts to create parallels with the classic tragedy; Jerzie’s love of musicals comes across as more intriguing than the insta-love storyline. Many characters read as one-dimensional, making it hard to get invested in the outcome. The cast of characters is racially and ethnically diverse.

Like its inspiration, Romeo and Juliet, this love story contains much drama and unfulfilled potential. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-07062-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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