Funny, smart, moving, courageous, and so timely it almost hurts.

THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF HOODIE ROSEN

In a town seething over an influx of Orthodox Jews, a yeshiva boy falls in love with the mayor’s daughter.

Yehuda “Hoodie” Rosen tells us on Page 1 that his horrible crime ruined his life, humiliated his family, and put him in the ICU—but in some ways, he also thought it was pretty funny. Once you get to know this jokester, you’ll believe it; his sharp awareness of the ironies of life and language illuminate every page of this first-person narrative. Hoodie, his parents, and his “numerous and various” sisters have just moved to Tregaron, a fictional town (cued as being near Philadelphia) where his father is involved with building a high-rise intended to house many more Orthodox families. The community’s outraged opposition to this is spearheaded by the mayor, Monica Diaz-O’Leary, so it’s particularly inconvenient that the first love of Hoodie’s 15-year-old life is her daughter, Anna-Marie—who seems to like him back. But after the two attempt to remove the swastikas that have been spray-painted on Jewish gravestones, Hoodie is ostracized by his community and harshly punished for consorting with a non-Jew. Then antisemitism explodes in a violent, ripped-from-the-headlines incident. Blum’s engrossing debut explains myriad details of Orthodox Jewish faith and includes Hoodie’s questioning of them. Through the brilliant character of Zippy, his wise older sister, Hoodie can see the path to a less constricted but still devout way of living. Anna-Marie's surname cues her ethnic background.

Funny, smart, moving, courageous, and so timely it almost hurts. (Fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-52582-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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    Best Books Of 2014

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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