Readers will laugh, possibly uneasily, at Jack’s reckless antics and lack of impulse control, but they will probably also...

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THE TROUBLE IN ME

A misbegotten effort to reinvent himself leads young “Jack” to burn his notebooks and clothes, though not quite his bridges, in Gantos’ latest burst of confessional fiction.

This summer episode falls in chronology shortly after Jack’s Black Book (1997). Dissatisfied with his life and looking for a new model, 14-year-old Jack fixes with characteristic lack of good judgment on next-door-neighbor Gary Pagoda—a leather-jacketed older teen fresh out of juvie. Gary turns out to be a dab hand not only at testing his new amanuensis with life-threatening backyard games, but also hot-wiring cars and other thrillingly illegal amusements. Reflected in both jacket cover and chapter titles, fire or fireworks play a recurring role in events as Jack tries to make a clean break with his past by torching both his childhood journals and his clothes (replacing the latter with shoplifted goods). Jack’s narrative has a Wimpy Kid tone and appeal as, looking back, he’s well-aware of his own youthful fecklessness and almost eager to point out where he went wrong. But, not very surprisingly for readers who have been following his checkered career, he turns out to be a miserable failure at real evil.

Readers will laugh, possibly uneasily, at Jack’s reckless antics and lack of impulse control, but they will probably also sympathize with his deep itch to make a change. (preface, afterword) (Historical fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-37995-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the...

THE MOST DANGEROUS THING

An eleventh-grade girl wants to start a relationship but is stymied by depression and anxiety.

Syd knows her depression isn’t really out of control, like some people’s. She can usually manage the crushing fog that weighs her down: tricking herself into getting out of bed by playing the phone game; biking around Vancouver, British Columbia, until she’s exhausted; investing online with her cantankerous grandfather; eating just enough to get by. It works well enough until her lab partner, Paul, starts texting and flirting. Syd would respond in kind if she could, but she’s afraid to make eye contact or have conversations with new people—how could she possibly start a relationship? Fading into the background would be ideal, but her gregarious family has other plans. Her mother, revitalizing the family Passover celebration, ropes Syd into embarrassing Jewish singalongs. Worse, Syd’s vivacious sister wants to perform The Vagina Monologues for the school drama festival, and she’s written her own monologue—one that uses “the c-word”! The oozing darkness that dominates Syd’s thoughts is authentically represented in her present-tense narration and appropriately addressed with professional mental health treatment. Frustratingly, however, Syd’s nervousness about romantic and sexual intimacy is pathologized as a curable symptom of her mental illness.

An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the flavor for a tale of recovery and empowerment . (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1184-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion

THE PACK

A group of shape-shifting runaways from the circus, on the run from genocidal hunters, tries to find a home.

Flo, her boyfriend, Jett, and the other shifters just want to find a strong pack to join. The teenagers (all either white or with no identified race) can all shift into an animal form: bears or tigers, parrots or rats, elephants or horses. The frightened escapees, who’ve lost many of their loved ones to hunters, have been seeking some safe place in the woods. The members of this huge cast (with too many names and animal forms to keep track of) have a wide array of agendas. Should they join the wild pack? The wolf pack? Should they even stay together? After brief dramas, many of these newly introduced characters vanish, never to be heard from again. Finally, Flo and the shifters are captured by hunters, who are in league with the lion who used to run their circus, who’d been betraying them for years and who now seeks to strike a bargain. Further dramatic revelations and betrayals await, of course. There’s no attempt to summarize the events of The Wanderers (2015), and with so many characters, side quests, and double crosses, it’s often difficult to keep track.

Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1218-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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