An engaging choice for fans of realistic fiction, simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and uplifting the spirit.

READ REVIEW

ELEKTRA'S ADVENTURES IN TRAGEDY

After Elektra Kamenides’ mother packs her and her younger sister, Thalia, into the car and announces that they are leaving her father in Mississippi and moving to California, Elektra invokes her mantra: What Would Odysseus Do?

The 16-year-old daughter of Nikos, a prominent scholar of ancient Greece, and Helen, an aspiring author, Elektra is dismayed to find that the boat her mother purchased sight unseen is a roach-infested, mud-bound wreck in a forgotten town outside Silicon Valley. Always close to her father, even Thalia’s endless chipperness and her mother’s insistence that they must, like Emily Dickinson, “dwell in possibility,” cannot lift Elektra’s spirits. The little family is battered by financial troubles, a shocking revelation about Nikos, and the struggle to adapt to living on the cramped, run-down boat. However, they are embraced by the colorful locals who, united in their personal and economic struggles, offer unconditional acceptance. A rich sense of place, clever dialogue, and a charming sibling relationship make this novel stand out. Disappointingly, the book is marked by an absence of modern Greek cultural texture; although Nikos’ father was a Greek immigrant and the entire family recently returned from a sabbatical year spent living in Greece, all the Greek references relate to ancient times. The cast is Latinx and white, and one character has PTSD.

An engaging choice for fans of realistic fiction, simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and uplifting the spirit. (Fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6303-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more