Younge-Ullman’s subtle approach to narrative pacing allows readers to accompany Ingrid on her journey to fully confront and...

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED

On a three-week wilderness adventure in Northern Ontario arranged by her mother, Ingrid is tested in unexpected ways.

Utterly surprised when the camping trip turns out not to be cabins and day hikes but rugged hiking and canoeing, Ingrid is nonetheless determined to find her “inner Nature Girl” and prove that she’s mature enough to spend her senior year at school in London, England. Ingrid punctuates her first-person narrative of the three weeks with journal entries in the form of letters to her mother, in which she sarcastically recounts the daily annoyances of the “shit hole” she finds herself in. The present-day account is interspersed with past-tense chapters detailing a childhood spent traveling around Europe with her mother, a world-famous opera star who stopped performing when Ingrid was 11. The two parts of her life seem strangely juxtaposed, but as Ingrid reflects on what brought her to this moment—the adjustment to public school in Toronto, the bullying, the message from her mother that she had no musical talent, as well as hints of some deeper emotional events—she begins to recognize the strength of character and leadership qualities that lie within her. With just three characters explicitly of color, Ingrid and the novel default to white.

Younge-Ullman’s subtle approach to narrative pacing allows readers to accompany Ingrid on her journey to fully confront and accept her past as she discovers her own true voice . (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-28759-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 37

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

Did you like this book?

more