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BEYOND THE BLUE BORDER

A compelling look at Germany’s recent past.

Two East German teens embark on a grueling swim across the Baltic Sea in search of freedom.

In the late 1980s, Hanna Klein and Andreas Kuschwitz are growing up in the coastal city of Rostock. Hanna is smart and a strong swimmer with a chance to pursue higher education; Andreas is constantly in trouble, never able to conform and behave in school. After they both face disciplinary action for supposed ideological transgressions, they’re sent to work in a diesel engine plant where they are harassed by the workers because of their higher social status. Andreas decides to attempt an escape, and Hanna joins him in a 30-kilometer swim in hopes of reaching the West German island of Fehmarn. With the goal of eventually reaching their friend in Hamburg whose family received official permission to leave the German Democratic Republic, they brave the frigid water, hoping not to get caught or killed. Written by a Rostock native and translated from German, this is a moving story depicting the dreams of escapees fighting for their lives. Hanna’s first-person narration vividly shows the young people’s fears, exhaustion, struggles, pain, and the obstacles they must overcome. However, this storyline is broken up with lighter comedic flashbacks providing background information about their lives prior to their escape; these stories highlight their experiences at school, friendships, relationships with authority figures, conflicting views of socialism, and current events.

A compelling look at Germany’s recent past. (map, glossary) (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-177-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2021

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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