Love and equality shape the past and future in this captivating tale.

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BUT NOT FOREVER

This YA debut sees two teenage girls switch places in time with significant repercussions.

Fifteen-year-old Sonnet McKay, originally from South Africa, is visiting her grandfather in Seattle for the summer. One day, she explores the abandoned town of Monte Cristo with her twin brother, Evan; her sister, 16-year-old Jules; and their teenage cousins Lia and Niki. Also present is Evan’s friend Rapp Loken, on whom Sonnet has a major crush. After the group enters a decrepit mansion, Sonnet and Rapp go upstairs to a bedroom. Rapp dares her to hide inside the closet as a prank on the others. As Sonnet does so, a gust of wind blows through the window and slams the closet door behind her. She suffers a confusing, painful tumble through “shimmery air,” then wakes up surrounded by people who think her name is Emma. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Emma Sweetwine, from 1895, has likewise fallen through a closet—her own, in her parents’ Monte Cristo home. She wakes in 2015, surrounded by Rapp and company, who nearly mistake her for Sonnet. At first, neither girl can believe her circumstances. But as events roll forward, Sonnet and Emma acclimate to their new centuries and learn that getting back home will require planning, determination, and love. In her novel, Von Schleh tackles one of the more devilish sci-fi conundrums, time travel, with gusto. She meticulously inserts the teens—who are spitting images of each other—into culture-shock scenarios relating to language, clothing, and etiquette, both personal and societal. Sonnet finds the enforcement of Victorian norms by Emma’s mother insufferable, for the woman has a “laser-like focus on me” that’s “a nonstop tsunami, boring down, pounding...on the shores of my new life.” Conversely, the modern freedoms Emma enjoys, reluctantly at first, provide heartbreaking revelations. About her peers’ speech, she notices: “Nothing was strained through a sieve, picked apart, and checked for merit or effect before being spoken.” Von Schleh uses the time-travel device to illustrate robust interior lives for her characters, and in the end, their romantic and familial verisimilitude enhances an already fabulous twist.

Love and equality shape the past and future in this captivating tale.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943006-58-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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