A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

The Lie They Told


When a teenage girl in 1925 Chicago kills her violent stepfather, her mother takes the blame in this YA novel.

Carola Pawlak, 15, living in Chicago’s Polish Town, is shy, studious, and badly dressed, although other girls sometimes say her looks are “promising.” She dreams of becoming a writer and has few friends other than Stan Carlson, a handsome Roma boy. She and her sweet mother, Maria, walk on eggshells around Carola’s angry, explosive stepfather, Henry Jaworski. That is, until a fight one day in which Carola, trying to protect her mother, strikes back. He attempts to destroy a prized silver amulet that Stan gave her—but it has a hidden knife, and Carola plunges it into Henry’s chest. Maria confesses to the crime, forcing a promise from Carola to go along, and is arrested. Unexpected help then arrives: Louise Lazaar, “the Chicago Tribune’s leading ‘sob sister.’ ” Sensing a story, Lazaar brings Carola to see T.J. O’Malley, Chicago’s best criminal lawyer, who takes her mother’s case. Carola gets a makeover—bobbed hair, cosmetics, new clothes—and Lazaar dubs her and Maria the “Mother-Daughter Angels,” writing stories such as, “‘She Did It for Me,’ Says Angel Daughter.” But Maria’s still in danger from other prisoners, and Carola learns that Stan’s in trouble for giving her the mysterious amulet. Arbeiter (A Mouton Coat: The Hunt for a Mother’s Story, 2013, etc.) offers a sympathetic YA heroine who’s also conventional in that she doesn’t feel beautiful but is, and she wants to be a writer. Her romance with Stan is sweet and provides a little heat, and Carola has a chance to play the rescuer instead of the rescuee, which is unusual in the YA genre. The 1920s setting is also vivid; Arbeiter gives a well-rounded sense of the era’s highlights, such as flappers and actor Rudolph Valentino, and challenges, such as crime and injustice.

A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

Pub Date: June 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-938812-59-0

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Full Court Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and...

White Tiger Legend

Set presumably in 12th-century China, an action-packed YA read about a young Shaolin monk named Zi who embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery after his temple and everything he ever knew are destroyed.

With the Gathering of the Ways quickly approaching, the entire population of the famed Shaolin Temple is frenetically preparing for the annual gathering of elite warriors from distant kingdoms who come together to test their abilities against the temple’s best kung fu practitioners. But when a cunning, morally bankrupt fighter known as the Red Dragon defeats the temple’s champion (who happens to be Zi’s older brother, Hu Yuan) and razes the temple in search of its mystical secrets, young Zi is forced to begin the Great Journey—essentially a treacherous quest of enlightenment that may ultimately reveal the greatest secret of the temple. On the quest, Zi meets and befriends a diversity of characters (like Bok Choi the grasshopper and a mysterious lady of the river named Auntie) who not only help the young Buddhist monk survive, but offer him wise advice as well. While the character of Zi is undeniably endearing, as is his insect sidekick, the story isn’t without minor flaws. The text is littered with grammatical errors (“Well stand down soldier. Watch how a ladies mantis goes about getting the goods son”), some of the fight scenes drag and become monotonous, and at points, the metaphysical nature of kung fu arguably goes too deep for the average reader (the sequence where the author connects chakras with the digestion of various foods, for example).

An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and spiritual philosophical undertones.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9929738-0-3

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Kory Juul Enterprises Corp

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

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An effective translation of a series that gives eye-opening glimpses into the lives of the comfortable middle-class in...

Nesthäkchen Flies from the Nest


A young woman ventures into the adult world in this vintage German novel.

Lehrer continues his ongoing annotated translation of Ury’s beloved prewar “Nesthäkchen” books with this English-language rendition of the sixth in that series, Nesthäkchen Fliegt aus dem Nest from 1921. In this latest installment, Annemarie Braun, the spoiled darling “Nesthäkchen” of her doctor father and his wife, turns 18 in a Germany still reeling from its catastrophic loss in World War I, although, as Lehrer rightly points out, the raw facts of history impinge very little on the mostly carefree events of this story. Those events center instead on Annemarie’s birthday celebration and her departure from home to attend college. This exit is naturally accompanied by a degree of worry on the part of Annemarie’s parents (“The ‘child’ will be defenseless alone in the big world,” they think. “What dangers lurked there at every step?”). But only a bubbly optimism prevails among Annemarie and her friends as they embark on what they see as some of their last free-spirited adventures before they’re encumbered with the duties and responsibilities of adulthood—including, for Annemarie, marriage and starting a family. The novel follows her to university and chronicles her various escapades—scheduling classes, making friends, taking the first breaths of independence—against Annemarie’s own high spirits and go-getter attitude. And as with the previous volumes, Lehrer does a steady, first-rate job of catching Ury’s frequent cultural allusions and in-jokes and explaining them in quick, unobtrusive footnotes: for example, “Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (15 November 1862-6 June 1946) was a German dramatist and novelist. He is counted among the most important promoters of literary naturalism, though he integrated other styles into his work as well.” Lehrer’s translation, smooth-flowing and easily approachable, brings readers into this series of proto-YA fiction set in the long-vanished world of a Germany before the horrors of World War II. The “Nesthäkchen” of these novels is the living embodiment of the purist, nationalistic sentimentality of that Germany.

An effective translation of a series that gives eye-opening glimpses into the lives of the comfortable middle-class in Germany between the world wars.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5300-8463-0

Page Count: 276

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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