FATHER'S ARCANE DAUGHTER

Layers of mystery. . . Who is the woman behind the desk who is drawing out Winston Carmichael's memories of this family saga? Who, really, is the thirty-odd-year-old woman who shows up one day in 1952 claiming to be half-sister Caroline kidnapped seventeen years before? Why is Dad so ready to accept her story and reinstate her as heir to her mother's fortune? But questions of identity become moot as the new Caroline helps Winston escape from the psychological prison of the Carmichaels' Pittsburgh mansion, and as she studies Special Education in order to find a way to free Heidi, the ten-year-old "gollywog" sister whose handicap has been exacerbated but never acknowledged by her society mother. In the process of investigating Caroline's real past, the now grownup children present us, simultaneously, with an impostor and a saint. Pittsburgh coffee shops, department stores, and neighborhoods are fondly documented while the Carmichaels assume an air of benign enigma that is, truly, arcane. Docile readers may be able to get inside the emotional fog that surrounds them—indeed, to believe that money played no part in Caroline's motives. For them, there will be a certain hermetic appeal; otherwise this is a mark-time exercise in a minor key.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 1976

ISBN: 068982680X

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1976

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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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LONG WAY DOWN

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 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This royal romp comes together for a strong finish.

TOKYO EVER AFTER

A Japanese American teen searches for her father—who turns out to be the crown prince of Japan.

Kind and “remarkably unremarkable,” Izumi Tanaka enjoys the support of her single mother and high school friends in her hometown of Mount Shasta, California. Her grades are “subpar at best,” and she’s been accepted into decent, but not exclusive, colleges. She acknowledges that her love of Real Housewives and dabbling in baking, while relatable, are not exceptional. After searching for her father and discovering the shocking news of his identity, Izumi is invited to Japan to stay with the royal family for two weeks. Dubbed the Lost Butterfly princess, she is swept up in royal life, complete with all its intrigue. The romance of being a princess—complete with a hot, young bodyguard, Akio—quickly dissipates as tabloids, cultural differences, and a serious blunder at the Japanese prime minister’s wedding take their toll. While the action-packed plot keeps pages turning, inconsistencies in Izumi’s voice are distracting, and her character development lacks cohesion. More slow-building tension would have given her romantic encounters with Akio a bigger payoff. However, the novel hits its stride in the second half as Izumi returns to the States and focuses on her personal growth and evolving relationships with each of her parents, developments that are thoughtfully fleshed out.

This royal romp comes together for a strong finish. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76660-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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