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 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

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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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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