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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Rich, complex, and confidently voiced.


Lucy finds solace in her late mother’s passion for shark biology during a summer that brings a new grief.

First-person narrator Lucy and neighbor Fred are compiling a field guide to animals they find near their Rockport, Massachusetts, home. Lucy is the artist, Fred the scientist, and their lifelong friendship is only just hinting that it could become something more. Lucy’s mother, who died of a brain aneurysm when Lucy was 7, five years earlier in 1991, was a recognized shark biologist; her father is a police diver. When a great white is snagged by a local fisherman—a family friend—video footage of an interview with Lucy’s mother surfaces on the news, and Lucy longs to know more. But then another loved one dies, drowned in a quarry accident, and it is Lucy’s father who recovers the body—in their small community it seems everyone is grappling with the pain. Lucy’s persistence in learning about the anatomy of sharks in order to draw them is a kind of homage to those she’s lost. Most of the characters are white; a marine scientist woman of color and protégée of Lucy’s mother plays a key role. Allen offers, through Lucy’s voice, a look at the intersection of art, science, friendship, and love in a way that is impressively nuanced and realistic while offering the reassurance of connection.

Rich, complex, and confidently voiced. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3160-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure


A Prohibition-era child enlists a gifted pickpocket and a pair of budding circus performers in a clever ruse to save her ancestral home from being stolen by developers.

Rundell sets her iron-jawed protagonist on a seemingly impossible quest: to break into the ramshackle Hudson River castle from which her grieving grandfather has been abruptly evicted by unscrupulous con man Victor Sorrotore and recover a fabulously valuable hidden emerald. Laying out an elaborate scheme in a notebook that itself turns out to be an integral part of the ensuing caper, Vita, only slowed by a bout with polio years before, enlists a team of helpers. Silk, a light-fingered orphan, aspiring aerialist Samuel Kawadza, and Arkady, a Russian lad with a remarkable affinity for and with animals, all join her in a series of expeditions, mostly nocturnal, through and under Manhattan. The city never comes to life the way the human characters do (Vita, for instance, “had six kinds of smile, and five of them were real”) but often does have a tangible presence, and notwithstanding Vita’s encounter with a (rather anachronistically styled) “Latina” librarian, period attitudes toward race and class are convincingly drawn. Vita, Silk, and Arkady all present white; Samuel, a Shona immigrant from Southern Rhodesia, is the only primary character of color. Santoso’s vignettes of, mostly, animals and small items add occasional visual grace notes.

Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure . (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1948-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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