Casey, whose misplaced loyalty indicates startling ignorance of her friend’s character, is a bore. Jess—sharply insightful,...

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TRUE BLUE

Known for powerful tales of social injustice in the developing world, Ellis here offers readers a flawed but gripping character study of teens in small-town Canada.

Recognized as the best friend of Casey White, a girl who was tried for murder in a sensational case, waitress and narrator Jess decides to tell her story. As counselors at a summer camp, Jess and Casey supervised young campers, including troubled and troublesome Stephanie Glass. Casey was arrested after Stephanie was murdered and her favorite T-shirt turned up, bloodstained, in Casey’s duffle. Interwoven with Jess’s account are flashbacks to their long friendship. These recollections work against the framing narrative device, in which Jess addresses a putative customer. Jess, an outcast, longs to be someone’s best friend; her attraction to Casey makes sense. But what does Casey see in Jess? Casey has no interest in peer acceptance. With a lifelong passion for insects, she plans to become an entomologist. Aimless, lazy Jess has no ambition beyond securing Casey’s undivided attention and loyalty—that is, until Casey’s arrest gives her entrée to the popular crowd.

Casey, whose misplaced loyalty indicates startling ignorance of her friend’s character, is a bore. Jess—sharply insightful, but selfish and entirely lacking in empathy—may be a piece of work, but she grabs readers’ attention and never lets it go. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9869495-3-1

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale.

LEGACY AND THE QUEEN

A 12-year-old girl living in a kingdom ruled by a mysterious queen dreams of attaining her sport’s highest prize.

Legacy Petrin lives and works in the financially strapped orphanage in the provinces run by her father and rises early every day to practice tennis with her old racket. After her best friend, Van, excitedly tells her about a scholarship competition for a spot at an esteemed academy and the opportunity to try out for the national championships, Legacy runs away to the city to compete. After winning, she learns there is still much she doesn’t know: The players are not just proficient in tennis, but also have magical skills that they use to their advantage. Legacy befriends Pippa, a knowledgeable girl from an elite tennis family, and acquires a builder, or coach, Javi. With Pippa and Javi at her side, Legacy makes her way through the competition, despite sabotage attempts, learning secrets about her own family along the way. Legacy is a strong character, and the secondary characters also have interesting backstories. The storyline is reminiscent of other dystopian stories, but centering tennis—with lively descriptions of matches that give a strong sense of the sport—is an unusual touch. Most characters are white, although Javi is brown-skinned, and some other characters of color are mentioned.

Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-03-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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