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CAN'T SAY IT WENT TO PLAN

An entertaining novel about personal issues and relationships unfolding during a wild vacation break.

It’s Schoolies Week, when Australian teens celebrate high school’s end.

Zoë, Samira, and Dahlia are off to the coast with their respective friends to celebrate their exams being over. Academically inclined Italian Australian Zoë plans to stay at a big hotel. At the last minute, her conservative mother forbids her to go, but she runs off anyway. Lebanese Australian Samira has lots of friends and a serious boyfriend, and she’s worked hard at her family’s bakery to earn money for the luxurious trip, complete with beach house, adventurous activities, and a plan to consummate her relationship on her birthday. But she gets a rude awakening when Zain dumps her, and her friends reveal their true colors. Her week is saved when she meets a zany trio of pop-star groupies from the house next door. Dahlia, who reads as White, is still mourning her best friend Stevie’s death. She’s staying at a hostel with two female friends, one of whom turns into something more. The three protagonists, unknown to one another, occasionally meet around town, mostly enjoy their week of partying—and even consider their plans for the future. Using a plot structure of alternating voices and day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, updates, this realistic novel about teen angst and fun will appeal to those looking for something light with a serious underpinning.

An entertaining novel about personal issues and relationships unfolding during a wild vacation break. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4607-6063-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper360

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

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 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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