Melanin Sun's inner journey will leave readers moved and reassured.

FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF MELANIN SUN

The close and loving relationship between a teenager and his single mother takes a heavy hit in this intense story from the author of I Hadn't Meant To Tell You This (1994).

Melanin Sun, 13, is unpleasantly surprised when Encanta Cedar's latest dinner guest turns out to be a woman—and a white woman to boot; that's nothing compared to his dismay when Encanta, after much sighing and hesitation, reveals that they are lovers. Mel's first reactions are predictable; except to say hurtful things, he clams up, retreating behind headphones and notebooks, rehearsing the common misconceptions about gays (freely using the words "fag" and "dyke"), and agonizing over what will happen when his friends find out. Fortunately, Melanin Sun has inherited his mother's courage and intelligence, so after thinking hard about how central she is to what he truly values and trusts, he passes from rage to resentment to bewilderment, and, finally, acceptance. In Woodson's graceful, sometimes tender prose, most of the characters shine with very human complexity, each a melange of dreams and concerns, moods, hopes and doubts.

Melanin Sun's inner journey will leave readers moved and reassured. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-590-45880-9

Page Count: 141

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.

THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE

The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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