OF SOUND MIND

Theo’s problems are both unusual and ordinary, as the only hearing child in a family otherwise deaf, and as the child of a parent who selfishly forgets who is the adult. Many oldest children may have the martyr syndrome going, but few with the resounding excuses of an artistically gifted deaf mother who relies on Theo for interpretation in her interactions with the world at large, a deaf brother who depends on Theo to be a parent, and a deaf father who quietly fills in the gaps, but refuses to rein in his wife. Flashy and gorgeous Ivy shows up at the bus stop and catches Theo signing swear words to himself. As the two discover elements in common and romance commences, they also find themselves unwilling to accept the other’s point of view about past and future choices. His father’s stroke heightens the pressure on Theo, forcing him to confront his own role. Ferris indicates speaking in sign with a boldface type and translates into English grammar to smooth the reader’s way. Great sensitivity is shown to the deaf culture and yet Theo’s position as the hearing one in his family is seen ultimately as both burden and gift. The core issue explored is the strain on a child whose parent is unwilling to parent, with deafness exacerbating the situation. Ivy’s hearing mother has abandoned her to her deaf father, and so there is a contrast in circumstances and personality that provides conflict in addition to the events that unfold. Told from Theo’s point of view, there is an unusual psychological richness that intrigues and keeps the somewhat stock characters from falling completely into cliché. A quiet story that resonates. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-35580-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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