A game-changing score to the back of the net.

THE PASSING PLAYBOOK

A teenage soccer star starting over at a new school finds love and courage as he takes the field to fight for his team and what he believes in.

Spencer, a biracial (Black and presumably White) transgender boy, begins sophomore year with a firm game plan—blend in and keep his identity private. However, when he’s confronted with an opportunity to join the boys soccer team, Spencer can’t resist the challenge, especially after the cute vice captain says he doesn’t think Spencer has what it takes. Soccer means everything to Spencer, and he refuses to give up his shot to play, even if he has to keep it a secret from his overprotective parents. This contemporary sports romance subverts typical patterns of coming-out stories about transgender youth by centering the feelings of the transgender main character, giving him full agency over his identity disclosure, and providing him with an affirming support system that includes other queer and transgender characters. Initial rivalry heightens the tension between Spencer and his crush, a White boy whose Christian extremist family doesn’t know he’s gay. Their romantic arc adds another layer of nuance to the coming-out narrative. Spencer’s connection to his younger brother, Theo, who is autistic, is also woven into the story. Balancing hope and honesty, this debut deftly handles multiple social themes, including racism, privilege, identity, and accessibility.

A game-changing score to the back of the net. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984815-40-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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