SON OF THE MOB

As if life as a high-school senior isn’t hard enough, what with sports, SATs, college applications, and girls (or rather, the lack thereof), Vince Luca has to cope with the special complications of his father’s involvement in the vending-machine business—the family euphemism for organized crime. Case in point: Vince gets a date with the oh-so-hot Angela O’Bannon, but when he goes to get a make-out blanket from the trunk, he discovers the unconscious body of Jimmy the Rat, who’s just been worked over by his older brother. Poor Vince: his family just keeps getting in his way. After the debacle with Angela, Vince begins a real romance with the cute and spunky daughter of the FBI agent who has been assigned to bring the Lucas down; the bugs he has planted in the house force all vending-machine business—and heart-to-heart parent-son conversations—into the basement. Korman (No More Dead Dogs, 2000, etc.) can reliably be counted on to deliver a hilarious story; he delivers in spades here, as Vince desperately tries to hold out as the only legitimate member of the family while at the same time inadvertently getting himself deeper and deeper in the family business when he tries to get Jimmy the Rat off the hook. Maintaining the balance between situational humor and the real violence and ugliness of organized crime is no easy matter, but Korman pulls it off in fine manner, managing to create genuinely sympathetic characters in Vince’s family—people who love him and want the best for him, but who can at the same time call out a hit on someone as casually as ordering a pizza. Laced with running gags—the hijacking of Vince’s class-project Web site by his brother is priceless—here’s a laugh-out-loud addition to the ranks of dreary teen fiction. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7868-0769-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more