This thoroughly enjoyable read is a seductive invitation to relax and let life happen.

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THE LAKE EFFECT

Future millionaire Briggs Henry has his course mapped (law degree and MBA) until an eventful summer as live-in caretaker and handyman for an elderly Serbian widow in a Lake Michigan resort town upends his plans and the bedrock assumptions they rest on.

The white teen has learned to work hard and aim high, to adopt his dad’s relentlessly upbeat demeanor, always remembering that “failure is not an option.” (His hardworking mother mostly keeps her views to herself.) Only grim Grandma Ruth, his dad’s mother, makes time to attend Briggs’ baseball games (until the bottom of the third inning). Rooted in a stressful past, the family work ethic and mandatory optimism take a toll on Briggs. They've cost him his girlfriend and given him digestive troubles. Now, between chores for eccentric Mrs. B., his new employer, and escorting her to funerals, he succumbs to laid-back, resort-town life and to Abigail, an intriguing white neighbor who questions his goals and expectations of success. Life is unpredictable, she knows; events beyond our control can change everything. All we have is now. Relinquishing his grip on what lies ahead allows Briggs to appreciate this truth—it’s an ability he’ll soon need. Observant, sarcastic, compelling, and very funny, narrator Briggs is entirely convincing and—ably abetted by an abundance of diverse characters—never less than good company.

This thoroughly enjoyable read is a seductive invitation to relax and let life happen. (Fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4052-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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