A resonant look at coming-of-age in a socially networked world.


A Hawaii teen charts life before and after the catastrophe that’s reshaped her world.

Three years ago, Taylor’s family (presumed white) left Oregon for Oahu, where her mom’s clinical depression and the friction between her dad and brother, Eli, a high school senior, have worsened. Eli skips school to hang with his surfing brahs and girlfriend, Stacy, partying, drinking, and driving to the North Shore to surf. Eighth grader Taylor escapes into social networking, fantasizing about a career in fashion. Thrillingly befriended by wealthy, stylish Brielle, whose manipulative ways are patterned on reality TV, Taylor allows Brielle to coax her into abandoning one friend and betraying another. Taylor’s responses to classroom writing prompts—dating both before and after the catastrophe—comprise the text. Like Brielle, Taylor’s turned winner-take-all competition into her life template. Triumphant outcomes are transmitted and amplified through social media, but so are humiliation and tragedy. Publicly scrutinized by indifferent strangers, they prove deeply isolating. If the shape of the plot’s defining events at first seems withheld capriciously, the technique pays off in a powerful story charting the evolution of a life-shattering night and its aftermath. Oahu’s dizzying contradictions, from shabby to glorious, and cultural events such as Bon dances are carefully rendered and, like the Hawaiian orthography, largely accurate. Though character names and actions convey Hawaii’s uniquely mixed, multiethnic population, physical descriptions are disappointingly few.

A resonant look at coming-of-age in a socially networked world. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-17187-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American...


Crystal-clear prose poems paint a heart-rending picture of 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa’s journey from Seattle to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

This vividly wrought story of displacement, told from Mina’s first-person perspective, begins as it did for so many Japanese-Americans: with the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. The backlash of her Seattle community is instantaneous (“Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces / around the walls of the hall”), and Mina chronicles its effects on her family with a heavy heart. “I am an American, I scream / in my head, but my mouth is stuffed / with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue / of a little Buddha Grandpa prays to.” When Roosevelt decrees that West Coast Japanese-Americans are to be imprisoned in inland camps, the Tagawas board up their house, leaving the cat, Grandpa’s roses and Mina’s best friend behind. Following the Tagawas from Washington’s Puyallup Assembly Center to Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center (near the titular town of Eden), the narrative continues in poems and letters. In them, injustices such as endless camp lines sit alongside even larger ones, such as the government’s asking interned young men, including Mina’s brother, to fight for America.

An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American internment. (historical note) (Verse/historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1739-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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