A LOVE STORY STARRING MY DEAD BEST FRIEND

Cass doesn’t really think a cross-country bike trip will make her best friend Julia any less dead, but it will get her away from reformed bully Heather, who tormented Julia all through middle school. After Julia’s accidental death, her theater-geek friends, led by Julia’s boyfriend, determine to perform the musical Julia had left in draft form. Cass—never quite one of the group and unable to cope with Heather’s starring role in Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad—sets off bicycling from Illinois to California. That adventure, complete with first kiss, first significant other and the heartbreaking loyalties of friendship, is beautifully interwoven with the tale of what comes after her return to Illinois: Cass’s budding romance with Heather. More than a love story, this is a tale of survivors coping with the death of a friend, a girlfriend and the glue that held them all together. Bittersweet but never mawkish and punctuated with just the right amount of teen hipster humor. “Ninjas can divide by zero,” the cast sings while flinging food-coloring-and-corn-syrup blood at the audience, and both Cass and readers laugh through tears. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3420-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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NEW MOON

From the Twilight series , Vol. 2

All is not well between demon-magnet Bella and Edward Cullen, her vampire Romeo. An innocent papercut at Edward’s house puts Bella in grave danger when various members of the Cullen family can barely resist their hunger at the smell of blood. The Cullens promptly leave town, afraid of endangering Edward’s beloved, and Bella sinks into an overwhelming depression. Months later, she finally emerges from her funk to rebuild her life, focusing on her friendship with besotted teen Jacob from the reservation. Bella’s unhealthy enthrallment to Edward leads her into dangerous and self-destructive behavior despite her new friends, and supernatural complications are bound to reappear. Bella’s being hunted by an evil vampire, and Jacob’s adolescent male rage turns out to be incipient lycanthropy: It seems many Quileute Indians become werewolves in the presence of vampires, their natural enemies. Psychic miscommunications and angst-ridden dramatic gestures lead to an exciting page-turner of a conclusion drenched in the best of Gothic romantic excess. Despite Bella’s flat and obsessive personality, this tale of tortured demon lovers entices. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-16019-9

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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