Exciting, heartbreaking, and far from ordinary.

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WHEN THE SKY FELL ON SPLENDOR

Five years after a steel mill explosion in Splendor, Ohio, six teens gain unusual abilities when they get too close to a UFO crash.

The Ordinary are Franny and her brother Arthur, Sofia, Remy, Levi, and Nick, brought together after they lost loved ones in the explosion and its aftermath. Franny and Arthur’s brother, Mark, is still in a coma, and their mother has left them. While filming “Ghost Hunters,” a new episode of their mockumentary web series, a disc-shaped object crashes, engulfing them in brightness. Soon, Franny’s having a weird effect on electronics and believes she may be inhabited by an alien, but she’s not the only one experiencing unusual things: Remy is having visions of the end of the world, and Nick develops incredible musical talent. Franny’s scary next-door neighbor, who was blamed for the industrial accident, is acting even weirder than usual, and the FBI is after them. Can they save each other and the world? The alien mystery is compelling, but this story’s heart beats with Franny and her friends. Franny’s recollections of her family before the tragedy are poignant, and Henry (A Million Junes, 2017, etc.) tackles profound loss and grief with sensitivity while emphasizing the preciousness of human connection in this vast and wondrous universe. Sofia’s family is from Mexico City, Remy is implied Japanese-American, and other main characters are assumed white.

Exciting, heartbreaking, and far from ordinary. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48071-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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If the hands and agenda of the authors are evident, their passion elevates the novel beyond a needed call to action to a...

ALL AMERICAN BOYS

Two boys, one black and one white, act out an all-too-familiar drama when the former is brutally beaten during an arrest and the latter witnesses it.

Rashad wasn't trying to steal that bag of chips, but Officer Paul Galuzzo beats him to a pulp rather than hear him out. Quinn doesn't know that, but he does know that no one should be treated the way he sees family friend and surrogate father Paul whaling on that black kid. Day by day over the next week, each boy tells his story, Rashad in the hospital, where he watches endless replays of the incident, and Quinn at school, where he tries to avoid it. Soon Rashad's a trending hashtag, as his brother and friends organize a protest he's not sure he wants. Meanwhile, Quinn negotiates basketball practice with his best friend—Galuzzo's little brother, who expects loyalty—and Rashad's, who tells him bluntly, "White boy like you can just walk away whenever you want." In a series of set pieces, Rashad contemplates his unwanted role as the latest statistic, and Quinn decides whether he'll walk away or stand. Reynolds and Kiely supply their protagonists with a supporting cast that prods them in all the right ways; Rashad's strict, ex-cop dad provides unexpected complexity.

If the hands and agenda of the authors are evident, their passion elevates the novel beyond a needed call to action to a deeply moving experience. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6333-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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