An incredibly relevant story, now more than ever.

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ALL THE STARS DENIED

Estrella loves poetry and the natural world, but her days of lying in the fields and writing come to a halt when she is repatriated to Mexico.

Estrella’s family owns Rancho las Moras—a rarity in Texas, where they are increasingly surrounded by Anglo incomers, and a safe haven, not just from the Great Depression, but from the Rangers, who are rounding up mexicanos and repatriating them to Mexico, without regard to the fact that many are actually U.S. citizens. Walking in the footsteps of her activist parents, Estrella helps to organize a protest against the treatment of the tejanos in her town of Monteseco, with devastating results. Her family quickly becomes a target for the Rangers, and Estrella finds herself in Mexico, separated from her family. Here, she begins a journey for her survival as she attempts to reunite with her family and make it home to her country of birth, the United States of America. Beautifully and poetically written, the book includes Spanish words and Mexican-American cultural elements to make it a vividly authentic mirror for some readers and a universally appealing and engaging window for others. Enhanced by excerpts from Estrella’s journal, teens will get lost in the pages of this story and truly feel for the injustice the community faced during this often forgotten chapter of American history.

An incredibly relevant story, now more than ever. (author’s note, further reading, glossary) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-281-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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