Teen drama abounds in this story about loss and love.

THE YEAR THEY FELL

A group of high school seniors become orphans after a deadly plane crash.

Dayana Calderón was home, cyberstalking old friends during a pharma-induced high the night of the accident. Popular twins Josie and Jack Clay were throwing “the biggest blowout River Bank High School had ever seen.” It was a total fluke that Archie Gallagher, with his ever present sketchbook and dorky glasses, was there along with the socially awkward Harrison Rebkin, who has frequent panic attacks. The former preschool buddies had long since grown apart, but their parents were vacationing together when tragedy struck. Josie is a gorgeous blonde haunted by memories of childhood sexual abuse. “Ginormous shaved-headed” Jack is a white football star with ADHD and a demanding father. Dayana is Costa Rican and has a penchant for purple hair and facial piercings. Archie, a self-proclaimed “black art nerd,” has white adoptive parents and a younger brother—his parents’ biological child—who is a well-adjusted, gay teen. Harrison, who is white and Jewish, struggles with pressure from his single mother’s high expectations. These estranged friends grieve together, discover romance and long-lost friendships—and stumble across dark secrets. It’s a lot to unpack, as debut novelist Kreizman front-loads the book with a dense and soapy premise. Some readers will love the melodrama, but others may sense bathos in the contrast between the tremendous tragedy and the more quotidian high school concerns.

Teen drama abounds in this story about loss and love. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17987-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history

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  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

A teenage girl imprisoned in Auschwitz keeps the secret library of a forbidden school.

Dita Adlerova, 14, is confined in the notorious extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Compared to her fellow inmates, Dita’s relatively lucky. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. A young man named Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb, right under the noses of the Nazis. In Fredy’s classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. The tale, based on the real life of Dita Polach Kraus and the events of 1944 and 1945, intertwines the stories of several real people: Dita, Fredy, several little-known war heroes, even a grim cameo from Anne and Margot Frank. Holocaust-knowledgeable readers will have suspicions about how many characters will die horribly (spoiler alert: this is Auschwitz). Yet somehow, myriad storylines told by multiple narrators offer compelling narrative tension. Why does BIIb exist? Will Rudi and Alice have a romance? What’s Fredy’s secret? Will Dr. Mengele subject Dita to his grotesque experiments? Dita’s matter-of-fact perspective, set in a slow build from BIIb to the chaotic starvation of the war’s end, both increases the horror and makes it bearable to read.

Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history . (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-618-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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