Skip this uneven collection’s slighter offerings; its best are worth finding.

WELCOME HOME

This wide-ranging anthology features adoptees, foster-care veterans, trauma survivors, young birth mothers, adoptive parents, and those whose lives they touch.

Contemporary realism, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction: these 29 stories cover complicated territory. In adoption, happiness is inextricably bound to sorrow, even when birth parents put their child’s welfare ahead of their own, even when adoptee and adoptive parents form a loving bond. In Caela Carter’s luminous story, an African-American teen, a gifted student and athlete, must tell her beloved mother, whom she visits in prison, that her track coach and foster mother wants to adopt her; being gifted a life her mother couldn’t provide is a bitter joy. In Julie Leung’s “Ink Drips Black,” the bond connecting a Chinese grandmother and her American-adopted granddaughter, Stacy, is sacrifice. The high price paid for Stacy’s future is loss of family and culture. Elsewhere, a veteran of multiple placements dreads removal from the warm, welcoming foster family she’s bonded with; an adoptive family invites the young birth mother who made their family possible to remain part of it. Too many less-impressive stories offer a conventional outsider’s view of adoption—adoption by generous, loving parents as the happy ending to years of birthparent abuse or neglect. The best, however, reflect the bittersweet truths that adoptive families differ profoundly from biological ones and that coming to terms with these differences is a lifelong process.

Skip this uneven collection’s slighter offerings; its best are worth finding. (Short stories. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63583-004-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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