After his television-celebrity dad’s death, 16-year-old Hercules Martino is sent from his Upper West Side home to Baltimore...

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12 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU CRASH AND BURN

Homeless dudes, hot pizza girls, tanning salons and horse-stable make-out sessions punctuate a summer in Baltimore.

After his television-celebrity dad’s death, 16-year-old Hercules Martino is sent from his Upper West Side home to Baltimore to spend the last two weeks of summer with his Uncle Anthony. Upon arrival, Hercules is handed a list of things he must accomplish during his stay, and despite his resistance, he somehow manages to stumble into each and every one of them. The one he deems most important finds him chasing a lost copy of Winnie-the-Pooh for a hot college girl and sets him on a trajectory to complete the other tasks. Although Hercules and Anthony have never hit it off, their hilarious “man speak” insult-based dialogue intimately suggests that a connection does exist between them. Told in short, near-poetic vignettes, the chapters of Proimos’ first teen novel are packed with plenty of small details and genuine moments of ridiculous humor. Often these chapters are too short and lack connective tissue, however, which results in confusing passages of time, odd jumps in plotting and, most often, a longing for more details. Still, readers will relish Hercules’ smart-alecky, slacker sense of humor and his dogged determination to get the girl.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-595-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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