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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Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience.

BRIDGE OF CLAY

Years after the death of their mother, the fourth son in an Australian family of five boys reconnects with his estranged father.

Matthew Dunbar dug up the old TW, the typewriter his father buried (along with a dog and a snake) in the backyard of his childhood home. He searched for it in order to tell the story of the family’s past, a story about his mother, who escaped from Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall; about his father, who abandoned them all after their mother’s death; about his brother Clay, who built a bridge to reunite their family; and about a mule named Achilles. Zusak (The Book Thief, 2006, etc.) weaves a complex narrative winding through flashbacks. His prose is thick with metaphor and heavy with allusions to Homer’s epics. The story romanticizes Matthew and his brothers’ often violent and sometimes homophobic expressions of their cisgender, heterosexual masculinity with reflections unsettlingly reminiscent of a “boys will be boys” attitude. Women in the book primarily play the roles of love interests, mothers, or (in the case of their neighbor) someone to marvel at the Dunbar boys and give them jars to open. The characters are all presumably white.

Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984830-15-9

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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