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RADICAL

A hard, cleareyed look at coming of age in a prejudiced world.

Bex struggles to find acceptance for her nontraditional gender expression and her sexual orientation within her family and within the doomsday survivalist community she longs to join.

Since she’s been at odds with her family over her survivalist interests in addition to her masculine appearance, her father’s and brother’s decisions to join a new survivalist organization surprise Bex. Joining them on visits to the organization’s developing compound, Bex finds that her desire for fellowship overrides her concerns about some members’ misogyny, homophobia, and racism (which suggests that the majority of the novel’s cast is white). Even as her brother’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and aggressive, Bex is unwilling to consider the community’s potential dark side. She’s also distracted when Lucy arrives for the summer and presents Bex with her first opportunity for a lesbian relationship (though it remains a secret from other characters). Readers of all sexual orientations will relate to Bex’s intoxicated blend of nerves and anticipation regarding Lucy. Many will also understand her instinctive motivation to maintain relationship harmony by minimizing her survivalist activities—though ultimately this becomes impossible. And then, quite suddenly, Bex can’t avoid facing the dark truths of her family and chosen community. Kokie takes her time developing characters and setting the plot in motion, creating a believable lesbian protagonist who wants to belong to a world that doesn’t particularly want her.

A hard, cleareyed look at coming of age in a prejudiced world. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6962-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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