A page-turner with a heart and a soul.

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MILES MORALES

Move over Peter Parker, a new Spidey’s in town!

Spider-Man is forced to confront girls, evil, and identity crises, all while trying to survive junior year. In his latest work, Reynolds (Ghost, 2016, etc.)—a Kirkus Prize and Coretta Scott King Award winner—crafts an enjoyable piece of superhero fiction that completely transcends its genre. The result is an engrossing novel for teens boasting familiar and timely themes that add flavor and complexity to the Spider-Man mythos. In 2017, Miles Morales—a half-black/half–Puerto Rican teen on scholarship at an elite prep school—wears the famous mask and is a contemporary Everykid burdened by a family past that defines him as much as his powers do. Hailing from the Brooklyn projects, he represents countless teens whose life struggles are radically different from those Parker endured in the relative comforts of 1960s suburbia. In the author’s capable hands, Brooklyn’s sensory details, from the performers on the subway to the smells of Mrs. Morales’ fried chicken, practically pop off of the page. The narrative is anchored by strong, nuanced characters, particularly Miles’ tough-but-loving parents, Ganke, his Korean-American best friend, and his uncle Aaron, whose criminal past led to the development of Miles’ powers. Miles’ struggle to balance his superhero calling with familial pressure to make it out of the projects renders him all the more sympathetic.

A page-turner with a heart and a soul. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-8748-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Marvel Press

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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