Rife with witticism, like a finely honed sitcom, and brimming with heart.

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FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN

The summer before senior year, Sophie falls for a new neighbor and campaigns for a country music star to help raise money for the school band.

Sophie Kemper loves her small hometown of Acadia, Illinois. Though she’s focused on college applications, she can’t help wondering why anyone would want to leave. School band is her thing, and as the next president of the fundraising committee, it’s her responsibility to get them to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Sophie hatches a plan to raise money by persuading Megan Pleasant, country singer and lone famous person from Acadia, to perform at the fall festival. At the same time, she finds herself falling for August Shaw, the mysterious new boy who is staying with the family she babysits for down the street. They instantly click, exchanging clever banter and bonding over their blended families. But August won’t let Sophie in, and the sister she desperately misses disappoints her. Even her once-tight friendship group begins to splinter. On top of everything, Megan Pleasant seems to have deserted Acadia for good. Teeming with witty exchanges and realistic but heady drama, Sophie’s summer is easy to sink into. Though the romance is electric, it’s the relationships with her friends that really sing. Sophie and August are assumed white; there is some ethnic and sexual orientation diversity.

Rife with witticism, like a finely honed sitcom, and brimming with heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17963-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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