A heartfelt and beautifully written page-turner.

After a summer break spent in Beirut, Ghady, a Lebanese teenager, returns with his family to Brussels, Belgium, where they reside.

Left behind is Rawan, his female best friend, with whom he keeps in touch through email. Through their correspondence, readers find out about their dreams and ambitions but also, and most importantly, their teenage angst and worries: Rawan’s increasingly uneasy relationship with her parents and Ghady’s bouts with homesickness and racial stereotyping. Their stories—while told through the perspectives of two Lebanese characters—skillfully examine issues pertinent to adolescents everywhere: bullying, peer pressure, racial discrimination, conflicts with parents, substance abuse….The young peoples’ narratives and communications uncover each of their perceptions of the other’s world, with Rawan envious of the fast internet and 24/7 electricity Ghady enjoys in “well-organized” Brussels while Ghady longs for the extended family life of Lebanese culture and writes to Rawan that “the noise of the Beirut streets…is better than the silence here.” Originally written in Arabic, the novel is masterfully penned by celebrated, award-winning authors Sharafeddine (The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina, 2015, etc.) and Barraj (Red Line, 2019, etc.). The dual authorship results in a seamless text, and readers will travel smoothly between the novel’s two loci, Beirut and Brussels.

A heartfelt and beautifully written page-turner. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1852-2

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019


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

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

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 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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