Beautifully written—but after such polished, elegant storytelling, the end feels like a betrayal.

THE VIEW FROM WHO I WAS

She’s beautiful, popular, athletic, brilliant, rich and in love—yet Oona Antunes feels herself divide into two selves at the Winter Formal on the night she takes her own life.

Frostbitten, battered and bruised, Oona is rescued after her heart stopped beating. Both selves undergo a harsh, invigorating rebirth, and one starts to rebuild relationships: with her unhappy parents (distant father, embittered mother), the best friend she’s outgrown and the boy who loves her. Partly healed, Oona (already admitted to Yale) agrees to spend a week providing college-application advice to gifted students at an American Indian boarding school in New Mexico. The experience—especially her friendship with a Navajo girl—grounds Oona, pointing her way forward. The unnamed narrator, one of Oona’s halves (she terms the other “Corpse”), has a gripping, elegiac voice that invites readers’ trust. The wintry Colorado-mountain-town setting and enormous, cold Antunes mansion skillfully echo the water tropes in plot and theme. The story winds to a peak of tension, then collapses at the end like a house of cards. Big questions remain—why Oona chose this night, this route; why she split in two—whereas explanations provided not only fail to justify suicide, they consign her to secondary status in her own story.

Beautifully written—but after such polished, elegant storytelling, the end feels like a betrayal. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4174-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking.

I AM NOT STARFIRE

Sixteen-year-old Mandy considers herself the anti-Starfire: Unlike her scantily clad superhero mother, she doesn’t have superpowers, can’t fly, and doesn’t even own a bathing suit.

Mandy dyes her hair and dresses in all black to further call out how different they are. Mandy’s best friend, Lincoln, whose parents were born in Vietnam, insightfully summarizes this rift as being down to an intergenerational divide that occurs whether parents and children come from different countries or different planets. Mandy tries to figure out what kind of future she wants for herself as she struggles with teenage insecurities and bullying, her relationship with her mom, and her budding friendship (or is it something more?) with her new class project partner, Claire. Yoshitani’s vibrant and colorful stylized illustrations beautifully meld the various iterations of Starfire and the Titans with the live-action versions of those characters. Together with Tamaki’s punchy writing, this coming-of-age story of identity, family, friendship, and saving the world is skillfully brought to life in a quick but nuanced read. These layers are most strongly displayed as the story draws parallels between cultural differences between the generations as evidenced in how the characters address bullying, body positivity, fatphobia, fetishization and sexualization, and feminism. This title addresses many important concepts briefly, but well, with great pacing, bold art, and concise and snappy dialogue. The cast is broadly diverse in both primary and secondary characters.

Equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. (Graphic fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77950-126-4

Page Count: 184

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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