A brilliantly written tale of a town in crisis; while possibly too quiet and quotidian to move some, there is terror in...

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UNNATURAL DISASTERS

A story that feels ripped from the pages of a catastrophic future.

Living in a world of climate change and escalating international tension, high school horror-flick aficionado Lucy plays the typical teenager by going to prom with her boyfriend. Why plan for a future when the world is so in flux? The two lovebirds decide to travel the world post-graduation rather than following their peers to college. But prom night offers more excitement than anyone expected, and when tragedy strikes in Washington, D.C., the students retreat to their homes and families. With lines of communication interrupted, Lucy’s household lives in a state of uncertainty. The fascinating tale of Lucy’s absentee mother, a jailed political activist, is introduced as Lucy digs through boxes in the attic, but the story focuses on Lucy’s attempt to rejuvenate her love life and live an everyday existence. Horrifying for the way it makes readers imagine existential dread in a time of chaos, the novel ends by introducing a new disaster. A final shift toward hope results from the characters’ being forced to take community action. Most of the cast is assumed white, and there is some diversity in secondary characters, such as Lucy’s Greek/Egyptian friend and his family.

A brilliantly written tale of a town in crisis; while possibly too quiet and quotidian to move some, there is terror in picturing a mundane life in the midst of an apocalypse. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-544-99916-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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 unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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