Hard-hitting (if a little heavily reliant on suspension of belief) and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think...

BETTING GAME

From the Orca Sports series

O’Connor tackles a tough one: a high school soccer star caught in a web of gambling.

Jack and his brother, Alex, attend a soccer academy, the kind of institution that grooms students for professional-level play. Their team is a contender for the national championship, but they have just lost their best player to the professional leagues, and a new ringer isn’t fitting in with the team. O’Connor will keep the game’s fans close with plenty of in-the-know soccer patter, but she will also draw other readers with the story of Jack’s slow absorption into a gambling ring. Luka, a flashy Ukrainian with money to burn (a casting choice that falls perilously close to prejudicial stereotyping), befriends Jack, greasing the relationship with some valuable gifts. Readers may find it hard to believe that Jack doesn’t realize every word he drops in Luka’s ear about his senior-division team—who is hurting, who is away for a game—is fodder for Luka’s gambling operation. But Jack does know all about the operation, especially how easy it is to go into debt when the interest is compounded. Jack, Alex, and an unexpected compatriot set up a sting, but not before Luka makes some grisly threats.

Hard-hitting (if a little heavily reliant on suspension of belief) and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think crime is a sport and a joke. (Sports fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0930-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery.

DISPLACEMENT

Time travel brings a girl closer to someone she’s never known.

Sixteen-year-old Kiku, who is Japanese and white, only knows bits and pieces of her family history. While on a trip with her mother to San Francisco from their Seattle home, they search for her grandmother’s childhood home. While waiting for her mother, who goes inside to explore the mall now standing there, a mysterious fog envelops Kiku and displaces her to a theater in the past where a girl is playing the violin. The gifted musician is Ernestina Teranishi, who Kiku later confirms is her late grandmother. To Kiku’s dismay, the fog continues to transport her, eventually dropping her down next door to Ernestina’s family in a World War II Japanese American internment camp. The clean illustrations in soothing browns and blues convey the characters’ intense emotions. Hughes takes inspiration from her own family’s story, deftly balancing complicated national history with explorations of cultural dislocation and biracial identity. As Kiku processes her experiences, Hughes draws parallels to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the incarceration of migrant children. The emotional connection between Kiku and her grandmother is underdeveloped; despite their being neighbors, Ernestina appears briefly and feels elusive to both Kiku and readers up to the very end. Despite some loose ends, readers will gain insights to the Japanese American incarceration and feel called to activism.

A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery. (photographs, author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Graphic historical fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19353-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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