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ONLY PIECES

From the West 44 YA Verse series

An appealing coming-of-age story that will engage reluctant readers.

Unable to express himself freely at home, a gay teen, the son of undocumented immigrants, finds solace in his writing.

The call comes in: Apá is returning home after not being able to find work due to an injury. Now, the tension between Edgar Jimenez’s parents boils over: Little income means that Amá stresses out about food and bills; Apá, in the meantime, finds escape in beer and television—when he’s not out of sorts. Edgar pours his thoughts and worries into his poetry as a way to explore his emotions. After all, he has a secret: He’s gay. Amá knows, but she encourages Edgar to keep this a secret from his dad. But one night, Edgar runs into his crush, Alex Cisneros, in his apartment complex, and it turns out that Alex has a secret as well, one that he confides in Edgar. As pressure builds at home, Edgar starts to hang out with Alex, who shows interest in him and his writing. The two Mexican American boys slowly bond over their troubles and fears even though Edgar finds it hard to overcome the pressures he feels from his parents. Tello’s YA debut is slim yet potent, simmering up until the ending that presents optimistic fragments full of vague possibilities that may both frustrate and delight. The author infuses some lovely imagery and Mexican folklore into this overall pleasing offering.

An appealing coming-of-age story that will engage reluctant readers. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9785-9602-3

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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LONG WAY DOWN

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Newbery Honor Book

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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THE ONLY GIRL IN TOWN

A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution.

A teenage girl finds herself alone after everyone else in her town mysteriously disappears, leaving her scrambling to figure out how to find them all.

One late summer day, everybody in July Fielding’s town disappears. She is left to piece together what happened, following a series of cryptic signs she finds around town urging her to “GET THEM BACK.” The narrative moves back and forth between July’s present and the events of the summer before, when her relationship with her best friend, cross-country team co-captain Sydney, starts to fracture due to a combination of jealousy over July’s new relationship with a cute boy called Sam and sweet up-and-coming freshman Ella’s threatening to overtake Syd’s status as star of the track team. The team members participate in a ritual in which they jump off a cliff into the rocky waters below at the end of their Friday practice runs. Though Ella is reluctant, Syd pressures her to jump. Short, frenetically paced sections move the story along quickly, and there is much foreshadowing pointing to something terrible that occurred at the end of that summer, which may be the key to July’s current predicament, but there is much misdirection too. Ultimately this is a story without enough setup to make the turn the book takes in the end feel fully developed or earned. All characters read white.

A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593327173

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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