This first-person tale gently illustrates change, both good and bad.

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BAYGIRL

In the Newfoundland fishing village of Parsons Bay, Kitty has her refuges all staked out, for when she needs to hide from her father’s nearly incessant drunken belligerence.

Neighbor Ms. Bartlett and her Nan live nearby, and there is a cliff where she frequently meets her best friend, Anne-Marie, for solace. But it’s 1992, and the cod fishery is subject to a moratorium, leaving her father suddenly without work. Hoping to find work, the family moves to live with Uncle Iggy in St. John’s. The bigger city and foreign environment require that Kitty find new friends and new ways to cope. Her uncle, an elderly neighbor who favors forgiveness, and, above all, an attractive boy support Kitty and yet present her with challenges. Required to look past first glances and see the heart beneath in this new environment, Kitty in the process begins to look past her father’s drunken exterior as well. Learning and accepting a bit of the why her father is incapable of facing life sober helps. Admitting that she knows that he loves her even if he can’t seem to show it makes life endurable. Kitty’s initial belligerence and anger, so predominant early on, modulates to a more nuanced point of view; given her growth, it’s a shame the mother remains a nonentity.

This first-person tale gently illustrates change, both good and bad. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0274-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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An emotionally engaging and draining debut.

OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS

Two teenagers suffer through their first heartbreak.

Henry Page has spent his high school years with his nose to the grindstone, avoiding romantic relationships and focusing on becoming the editor of the school paper. At the start of his senior year Henry is offered the job, but there’s a catch: transfer student Grace Town is offered the gig as well, making the two white teens co-editors. Sparks fly as Henry works with the aloof, unkempt new girl, who walks with a cane. As Henry and Grace grow closer, Henry falls deeper for her even as he learns just how broken she is. In her debut, Sutherland mixes her love story with equal parts hope and ominous dread. There is never any doubt that this couple is marching toward romantic oblivion, but it’s an effectively drawn journey. The characters speak with a John Green–esque voice, but they are never overbearingly precocious. Narrator Henry’s a smartly rendered character, a decent kid who has goals and works hard to achieve them. His new goal is Grace’s affection, and the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object that is Grace’s emotional unavailability provides the novel some of its sharpest moments. When the walls tumble down, the connection between the two is clearly an unhealthy one, and the author pulls no punches, devastating Henry, Grace, and readers in equal measure.

An emotionally engaging and draining debut. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-54656-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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