Filled with the whining and pining of a sophomore girl’s diary and sadly lacking in substance.

THE YEAR OF LIVING AWKWARDLY

SOPHOMORE YEAR

From the Chloe Snow's Diary series , Vol. 2

Chloe Snow’s freshman year was characterized by highs and lows, and her sophomore year is shaping up to offer much of the same.

Last year, Chloe was the lead in the school musical and received the occasional attention of an older guy. She also grew apart from her best friend and suffered a bout of intense cyberbullying, all while her flaky mother trotted off to Mexico and her parents’ marriage fell apart. The series’ second installment reads like a watered-down version of the first. Chloe’s mother is still in Mexico, occasionally popping up in Chloe’s inbox to wreak emotional havoc. Her relationship with her best friend is once again strained. Mean-girl bullying rears its ugly head again, this time in person. Chloe continues to drop in moments of social awareness acknowledging her many privileges as a “straight, white, upper-middle-class person,” but she immediately discards such realizations, returning to her own self-absorbed drama. The biggest change is that she spends this year obsessing over a younger guy with a girlfriend instead of an older one. Those who loved Chloe’s first diary may enjoy reading much of the same again, but the narrative offers little to anyone else.

Filled with the whining and pining of a sophomore girl’s diary and sadly lacking in substance. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8878-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

more