Haunting, frank and un-put-downable.

USES FOR BOYS

A teen girl grapples movingly with maternal abandonment, sexuality and identity.

Anna is the center of her young mother’s world: “Now I have everything,” she tells wee Anna repeatedly. Eventually, her devotion to single motherhood proves insufficient to address her own abandonment issues. Anna’s mom begins to date, marry and divorce a series of faceless men in a depressing and self-defeating cycle that leaves her pre-pubescent daughter totally unmoored. Now middle school–aged, Anna is alone for days at a time in an empty suburban house, and she drifts into a series of precociously sexual encounters that she thinks will give her the “everything” she wants so badly. As much a user of boys as she is used by them, Anna is often sad but rarely self-pitying, finding ways to cope with loneliness and the self-sufficiency her neglectful mother has thrust upon her: stretching the grocery money, keeping the television on for company, building an enviable thrift-shop wardrobe. Friendship with Toy, a similarly wounded connoisseur of fashion and boys, leads Anna to look for something bigger and better in her relationships. The final third of the story moves a bit fast, but it works, and Anna is so compellingly flawed and quietly winning that readers won’t quibble.

Haunting, frank and un-put-downable. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00711-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

STAY GOLD

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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