A unique slice of male high school life with strong crossover appeal for YA readers.




The ups and downs of male college-bound high school seniors during the 2016-2017 school year in Los Angeles.

In his first book, the much-praised The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (2014), Hobbs, a Yale graduate, focused on a black male Yale graduate who was murdered after returning to his hometown of Newark. In the author’s second work of nonfiction, the clear hero is Carlos, an undocumented Mexican immigrant also headed to Yale. Here, however, the music is polyphonic: Hobbs follows nine young men of varied races and ethnicities—four main and five lesser figures—cutting back and forth among their splintered accounts of college applications, taking AP classes, playing video games, pursuing after-school activities, and despairing over the 2016 election. Two key players attended the Ánimo Pat Brown charter school: the academic star Carlos, who applied to both Ivy League colleges and for protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; and Tio, a student leader rightly worried that his grades, though high, would not get him into top California colleges. The two other linchpins of the story attended Beverly Hills High School: Owen knew he was well off, but his mother was bedridden with a chronic illness; Sam’s mother, who was born in China, grilled him about school in ways he found “maddening.” At times, the author’s jump-cuts among the nine voices make it difficult to keep the teenagers straight, particularly the too-numerous secondary figures, and the story lacks the strong, cohesive narrative of his earlier work. Nonetheless, Hobbs offers a rare group portrait of well-rounded, hardworking male teenagers focused on college and securing a bright future. It’s sure to cheer school librarians looking for true stories of male high school students known for something besides their athletic talents or troubles with the law.

A unique slice of male high school life with strong crossover appeal for YA readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1633-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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