THE PULL OF GRAVITY

Blending Steinbeck and Star Wars, this debut novel with a touch of magical realism leads two teens on a weekend road trip to fulfill a secret mission. With a workaholic mother, an older brother heading to college and an out-of-work, 395-pound father who spends all his time on the couch, high-school freshman Nick doesn’t get much attention, especially when his father walks (literally) out of their house in Albany and back to his roots in New York City. To top it off, his fatherless best friend (and Yoda aficionado), Scooter, has Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare and incurable disease that speeds up the aging process. Then Jaycee, who’s also lost her dad, convinces Nick to join her in granting Scooter’s dying wish: locate Scooter’s father in Rochester and give him Scooter’s signed first edition of Of Mice and Men. Nick’s first-person narration and authentic teen voice give insight into this typical boy who wonders why, in the middle of thinking about his dying best friend, all he really wants to do is kiss Jaycee. Although the teens’ best laid plans go oft awry, they discover that the force of the universe is with them—or at least friendship, family and romance. Pulls the heart in all the right places. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-37193-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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