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Vivid and brutal—but not without a sliver of hope.

In 1808, a teen from Ghent escapes into a new life.

Eighteen-year-old Constance is miserable. The eldest child of a clog maker–turned–unsuccessful-inventor, fiery Stance is desperate to escape an impoverished and restrictive home. But when Stance’s father forces a marriage to Lieven, his 45-year-old potential business partner, life gets even worse. After 15 weeks of nightly rape by Lieven, who hopes to father a son, Stance dresses in men’s clothes, borrows the identity of baker’s son Binus, a conscripted acquaintance, and becomes a soldier in Napoleon’s Fourteenth. Despite the grueling conditions, the freedom is intoxicating. But when younger brother Pier tracks Stance down in Paris on Lieven’s behalf, Stance must face a duel. After surviving being shot in the head—and triumphantly adopting the nickname Ironhead, Stance continues to overcome the odds, ultimately finding liberation and independence beyond family or army. Ironhead also has a dalliance with a woman and ultimately becomes an amputee with significant PTSD. First-person chapters switch between sardonic Ironhead and naïve Pier, who struggles with his dysfunctional family and being unable to attend school, and the siblings’ narratives become increasingly compelling as their stories intertwine. Vivid language in this novel translated from the Dutch doesn’t shy away from the grime of everyday life or the graphic violence of war, and the descriptions of wartime medical procedures are not for the faint of heart.

Vivid and brutal—but not without a sliver of hope. (glossary) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64614-048-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Summery fun and games with feeling.

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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