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SEA

Disaster tourism masquerading as romance. Three years after the disappearance of her mother’s plane over the Indian Ocean, California girl Sienna is still barely functional. She’s curtailed surfing, friendships and travel. Sienna’s psychiatrist father is off to Indonesia to do relief work with tsunami orphans, and he’s dragging Sienna along. He claims he needs her help, but he clearly believes in philanthropy as therapy. Once in Indonesia, Sienna is assaulted by difference: Islam, Indonesian culture, race and poverty merge in her perceptions into a sometimes-disgusting mess of exoticism. The exotic becomes appealing when she meets Deni, the super-cute orphanage bad boy. Deni calls her rambat kuning, “yellow hair,” and sneaks her out of the orphanage for forbidden tours of town. If only she can help Deni—and squeeze in a few secret alleyway makeout sessions—Sienna will be happy. Convenient resolution brings healing to Sienna and family to Deni, returning each to his and her God-given lot in life. Well-meaning, but ultimately about slumming in disaster zones for a summer’s recuperative fun. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25163-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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ONCE A QUEEN

Evocations of Narnia are not enough to salvage this fantasy, which struggles with thin character development.

A portal fantasy survivor story from an established devotional writer.

Fourteen-year-old Eva’s maternal grandmother lives on a grand estate in England; Eva and her academic parents live in New Haven, Connecticut. When she and Mum finally visit Carrick Hall, Eva is alternately resentful at what she’s missed and overjoyed to connect with sometimes aloof Grandmother. Alongside questions of Eva’s family history, the summer is permeated by a greater mystery surrounding the work of fictional children’s fantasy writer A.H.W. Clifton, who wrote a Narnialike series that Eva adores. As it happens, Grandmother was one of several children who entered and ruled Ternival, the world of Clifton’s books; the others perished in 1952, and Grandmother hasn’t recovered. The Narnia influences are strong—Eva’s grandmother is the Susan figure who’s repudiated both magic and God—and the ensuing trauma has created rifts that echo through her relationships with her daughter and granddaughter. An early narrative implication that Eva will visit Ternival to set things right barely materializes in this series opener; meanwhile, the religious parable overwhelms the magic elements as the story winds on. The serviceable plot is weakened by shallow characterization. Little backstory appears other than that which immediately concerns the plot, and Eva tends to respond emotionally as the story requires—resentful when her seething silence is required, immediately trusting toward characters readers need to trust. Major characters are cued white.

Evocations of Narnia are not enough to salvage this fantasy, which struggles with thin character development. (author’s note, map, author Q&A) (Religious fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780593194454

Page Count: 384

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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