A luminous YA love story with magnetic characters and literary flair.

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A Florida girl and an Icelandic boy communicate without words in this cross-cultural teenage romance.

Sixteen-year-old budding artist Evie Perez is spending an unhappy summer accompanying her geologist dad on his temporary Iceland assignment, fretting that her best friend might be moving in on her boyfriend back in Miami. The one bright spot in the chilly, gray landscape is a cherry orchard that provides both succulent fruit and an inspiring setting for Evie to paint in. An added attraction is 17-year-old Oskar Eriksson, nephew of Agnes, the Scottish woman who runs the orchard; he has a chiseled torso, tousled blond hair, gorgeous dimples, and an uncanny resemblance to a figure in Evie’s painting, right down to a runic tattoo. Oskar is silent and aloof, and Evie supposes he doesn’t speak English; she thus feels free to gripe about her woes, including her beloved abuela’s creeping dementia and her divorced parents’ plan for her to live with her estranged mom in New York. Oskar has his own secrets: His parents and brother died in a car crash; his stutter makes him shy; and he speaks English perfectly. The two spend the summer processing cherries, dodging the odd earthquake, occasionally smoking marijuana, and edging toward passion. But their relationship is complicated by the mystery of Evie’s dream visions, which feature people from Oskar’s past. Hawkins weaves an atmospheric tale that plays Evie’s warmth against Oskar’s reserve and Agnes’ earthiness. The novel alternates between Evie’s point of view, written in well-observed, naturalistic prose with touches of magic, and excerpts from Oskar’s journal in lyrical blank verse. The latter captures Oskar as an awkward, occasionally rancorous adolescent (“It’s the American mentality / that triggers my upchuck reflex: / Take what you want— / when there’s a problem, / throw money at it,” he writes after Evie offers money when she’s caught with pilfered cherries) and as a poetic soul that many teen girls would find hard to resist: “I pick up the guitar / open up my veins / and bleed music / over the strings.” Readers will root for the pair as they try to figure each other out.

A luminous YA love story with magnetic characters and literary flair.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945654-45-9

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Owl Hollow Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.


A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.


A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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