An entertaining fantasy that nicely balances some ghostly melodrama with whimsy, teen wish fulfillment, and coming-of-age...


Death is no barrier to lesbian love in this YA supernatural romance.

Cassie is a shy, bookish New Orleans junior high student who feels alienated from her churchy parents and almost everything that goes on in school, especially the crushes her classmates are constantly gushing about. Her only real friend is Gem, a girl who looks about 15 years old; likes to wear a Boy Scout shirt, green skirt, and fishnets; and has haunted Cassie’s house for the two decades or so since she was murdered there in 1969. The schoolgirl and the ghost become soul mates and talk about everything, including Gem’s history with a girl named Daze, her “Hellcat” lover in reform school before their relationship ended in blood and fire. Cassie and Gem eventually come out to each other. After Cassie enters high school, they kindle a passion that progresses from making out to sex that is fully carnal (though demurely described) despite Gem’s lack of corporeal substance. Alas, the world just won’t let them be. After she slashes a homophobic bully and tells unbelieving adults about Gem, Cassie is packed off to Chose People Ministries, a coercive Christian therapeutic group that specializes in curing kids of gay sexuality and ghost delusions. There, she is subjected to aversive electroconvulsive treatments while viewing Sapphic pornography and pictures of specters. Jannerson’s (Thanks for Nothing, 2018, etc.) winsome yarn handles its magical realism in a vivid but matter-of-fact, no-jump-scare fashion, with the only horrors being those of religious intolerance and psychiatric abuse. Her treatment of gay sexuality is likewise positive and nonspooky. She nicely evokes the visceral wrongness Cassie feels dancing with a boy—“As the song progressed, Mackey’s hands drifted lower, and a nauseous lump formed in my throat”—and the giddy rightness she feels with Gem. The author at times brings a little too much maturity to the story: 13-year-old Cassie sometimes sounds like a 24-year-old graduate student—“both the activity and the actual notes felt, in the end, disingenuous,” she sighs when kids sign her seventh grade yearbook—and the third act bogs down in mundane relationship issues as college proves a direr threat than electroconvulsive therapy to Cassie and Gem’s love. Still, Jannerson’s appealing characters, deft prose, and psychological insights will hold readers’ attention.

An entertaining fantasy that nicely balances some ghostly melodrama with whimsy, teen wish fulfillment, and coming-of-age lessons.

Pub Date: June 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950412-89-1

Page Count: 229

Publisher: NineStar Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.


From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Did you like this book?