It adds up to fairly typical adolescent angst with a bit of insight on top. (Romance. 12-16)

PERFECT COUPLE

From the Superlatives series , Vol. 2

Harper, the official yearbook photographer, has a boyfriend but secretly crushes on Brody, the drop-dead-handsome football star. What happens when a silly student poll teams them up as the “Perfect Couple That Never Was”?

True, her romance with Kennedy hasn’t been going well. Kennedy picks fights with her just before they have dates, and he pushes her around in his job as yearbook editor. Brody isn’t single either, and he can’t seem to keep his hands off his girlfriend in public. But Harper has a job to do, and one of her assignments is to photograph the “Superlatives,” couples chosen by the students in secret ballots. And even though Brody has a girlfriend, he comes on to her—and she responds. When she has a furious fight with a jealous Kennedy in front of a roomful of their friends, things really go awry. Can she have a real relationship with Brody after all—or does he only care about her looks, now that she’s ditched her glasses and started wearing attractive clothes? Meanwhile, her parents are in the middle of a nasty divorce, and her grandfather behaves like a hermit. Echols focuses on Harper’s inner turmoil as she pens a better-than-average high school romance caper. She has fun highlighting many of Harper’s mistakes, but she also gives secondary characters unexpected complexity.

It adds up to fairly typical adolescent angst with a bit of insight on top. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7449-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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