Examining the power of memory and shifting the perceptions of teenage love, this novel delivers a powerful journey of...

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KEEP ME IN MIND

Ellia Renée Dawson cannot believe she is a junior in high school. Yesterday she was a freshman, because that's all she can remember.

Ellia and her athletic, brooding boyfriend, Liam McPherson, were the star odd couple at Léon High School until a traumatic fall snatched away any memory of the past two years of her life. In alternating first-person chapters, the black girl struggles to regain her sense of self while the white boy impatiently waits for his girlfriend to reappear. Ellia's childhood best friend, Stacey Levine, and Liam's scandalously young uncle, Wade McPherson, help them confront old ghosts and their strange new reality. Reed delivers solid high school romance with a twist. It is refreshing to see two characters that are both realistic and stray from the starry-eyed, misunderstood-WASP-youth trope. Apart from diverse backgrounds, this interracial relationship is devoid of the usual pitfalls. Ellia and Liam acknowledge each other's differences, including skin tone, and deal with them; their relationship is not a colorblind fantasy. Reed injects immediacy and high-stakes emotions while sidestepping the usual angst-y histrionics teenage characters are subject to. The maturation of each character marches in time with the plot as each unexpected discovery challenges their convictions.

Examining the power of memory and shifting the perceptions of teenage love, this novel delivers a powerful journey of self-discovery and rebirth. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88381-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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