A sweet, sexy, honest teen romance that just happens to involve two girls—all the more charming for being so very ordinary.

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GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT

An evangelical lesbian in a small Southern town stumbles on the road to true love—but not for the expected reasons.

Rome, Georgia, may be “where queer girls go to die,” but out-and-proud Joanna Gordon is spending her senior year there to make her radio preacher father (and his new wife) happy. Although she won’t go into the closet, Jo promises to “lie low” in exchange for her own on-air ministry. But how can she keep her word when her classmate Mary Carlson makes Jo’s heart ache...and the feeling just might be mutual? Funny, thoughtful, compassionate Jo is a delightful narrator; as she struggles to live her faith, she never considers her sexuality to be sinful. Despite their disagreements, Jo’s father and stepmother are loving and supportive; even her wild-child best friend can suffer the consequences of bad choices without being vilified. The frank portrayals of swearing, sexual activity, underage drinking, etc., neither titillate nor condemn; they just depict teens being authentic teens. While Jo and Mary Carlson are white, the rest of their friends display considerable diversity—in not just race and sexual orientation, but also religion, social class, developmental ability, family structure, and personal attitudes—portrayed with nuance through each character’s words and actions.

A sweet, sexy, honest teen romance that just happens to involve two girls—all the more charming for being so very ordinary. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-227098-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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