THE GHOSTS OF ASHBURY HIGH

Moriarty has done it again. Fourth in the loose Brookfield-Ashbury saga (Feeling Sorry for Celia, 2001; The Year of Secret Assignments, 2004; The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, 2006), this Australian import uses multiple formats (journals, exam essays, letters, transcripts) to relate the events of senior year at Ashbury, when two scholarship students with dark pasts and astounding talents shake up the lives of characters who will be familiar to fans. Quirky, comic and self-referential—exam questions about Gothic novels highlight the novel’s own gothic elements; weather then plays a crucial role in a climactic, possibly supernatural finale—this romp explores serious issues (especially class and privilege). No one is exactly who you think, and figuring out just what is going on is much of the fun. The author effortlessly employs multiple voices and narrative devices for maximum effect, and each member of the ensemble comes across loud and clear. Despite the heavy underpinnings, the focus is the redemptive power of friendship. Another winner, sure to please old fans and create new ones. (historical note) (Epistolary dramedy. YA)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-06972-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA

The Alaska of the title is a maddening, fascinating, vivid girl seen through the eyes of Pudge (Miles only to his parents), who meets Alaska at boarding school in Alabama.

Pudge is a skinny (“irony” says his roommate, the Colonel, of the nickname) thoughtful kid who collects and memorizes famous people’s last words. The Colonel, Takumi, Alaska and a Romanian girl named Lara are an utterly real gaggle of young persons, full of false starts, school pranks, moments of genuine exhilaration in learning and rather too many cigarettes and cheap bottles of wine. Their engine and center is Alaska, given to moodiness and crying jags but also full of spirit and energy, owner of a roomful of books she says she’s going to spend her life reading. Her center is a woeful family tragedy, and when Alaska herself is lost, her friends find their own ways out of the labyrinth, in part by pulling a last, hilarious school prank in her name. What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice.

Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-525-47506-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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