An imperfect but authentic look at teen love and betrayal that will entertain and touch readers.

STARRY NIGHT

An actor and memoirist’s debut novel for teens explores the exhilaration—and heartbreak—of passionate first love.

Fifteen-year-old Wren attends a life-changing party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (her father is its director), where she connects with her older brother’s new friend, the charismatic, talented musician Nolan. Though they’ve just met, the two feel a magical connection and slip away to another dance party with Nolan’s friends, ruining Wren’s borrowed designer gown and upsetting Wren’s parents, who promptly ground her. Smitten Wren persists in seeing Nolan, despite her parents’ wishes. Gillies captures the impulsive nature of teen love and its consequences along with nicely detailed secondary characters (little sister Dinah’s a cutie with her own cooking show; Wren’s parents draw sympathy with their real-time reactions to Wren’s relationship). Authentically depicted mother-daughter clashes allow readers to empathize with besotted Wren and outraged Nan—especially when Wren abruptly abandons long-cherished dreams of attending an art program in France to be near Nolan. Occasionally, amateurish moments disrupt (some dialogue sounds stilted; some transitions are announced at chapter beginnings). Still, readers willing to overlook such moments will find themselves engaged by Wren and her headlong dash into love; the lack of tidy happy endings underscores the grittily real feeling of the story’s emotional affairs.

An imperfect but authentic look at teen love and betrayal that will entertain and touch readers. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-30675-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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