An unflinching, devastating, and compelling portrayal of life after insurmountable loss.

LITTLE UNIVERSES

Hannah and Mae Winters’ comfortable lives plunge into chaos in the aftermath of the tsunami in Malaysia that kills their parents while they are on vacation.

As high school seniors the sisters are forced to start their lives over in Boston with their maternal Aunt Nora, leaving behind their life in LA. A recovering addict, Hannah finds herself succumbing to pills while Mae, who is adopted, struggles to come to terms with not knowing her ethnic heritage in a family where their maternal Greek heritage is a critical part of their identity. After moving to Boston, Hannah finds comfort in classmate Drew Nolan while Mae meets MIT student Ben Tamura, who shares her passion for science. The story is narrated from the perspectives of both Hannah and Mae. Demetrios (Bad Romance, 2018, etc.) immerses the reader in Mae's and Hannah’s worlds with aplomb and clarity, astutely capturing the precariousness of addiction and the spiral journey of recovery. Heavy themes—abortion, mental health, and more—are handled with care and candor. Readers will find themselves pulled into the world of each sister and her grief, witnessing the gutting effects of addiction and depression. Demetrios has struck a fine balance between science and New Age faith, hopelessness and hope, in her respectful portrayal of the sisters' differences. Most major characters are white; Ben is Japanese American.

An unflinching, devastating, and compelling portrayal of life after insurmountable loss. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22279-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence.

WATCH OVER ME

After a horrific domestic violence incident, Zoey Ward and her family finally find their footing in Las Vegas only to have their lives overturned by a house fire.

Learning that her father has been recently released from prison, Zoey suspects he had something to do with the blaze. After their lives go up in flames, literally, Zoey along with her mom and her younger siblings, Kate and Cole, flee Las Vegas with the help of her older brother, Will, and his best friend, Tristan. They take refuge in California, where Tristan and his sister welcome them into a world where things seem hopeful and more stable than anything they have ever known. Yet the fear of being hunted down by her father consumes Zoey. The story is narrated from Zoey’s and Tristan’s first-person perspectives, and Gray (Run Away With Me, 2017, etc.) has masterfully captured the uncertainty and terror that come from domestic violence. Tristan and Zoey share a budding romance in which Zoey slowly but surely learns to love and be loved in a nondestructive, healthy way despite her fears and reservations. With everything she has been through, Zoey is the underdog readers will find themselves rooting for. Gray spares no detail in this intense tale. All characters are assumed to be white; Tristan is dyslexic, and there are several queer characters.

An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4281-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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