Gilmore’s gritty multigenerational tale not only seeks to ask adoption’s toughest questions, but dares to offer no easy...

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A probing look at teen pregnancy and adoption.

Acclaimed novelist Gilmore (We Were Never Here, 2016, etc.) explores the loaded subject of adoption from multiple perspectives. She fashions two first-person narratives: Bridget, a pregnant 16-year-old grappling with whether to keep her baby at the turn of the 21st century, and Ivy, a 16-year-old adoptee, who in 2017 decides the time to find her birth mother has come. Early on, Gilmore slowly reveals that Ivy is the daughter Bridget gave to lesbian couple Andrea and Joanne in 2000, exiting their lives shortly thereafter, leaving only letters for Ivy. While the intricately interwoven nonlinear narrative offers much food for thought in terms of identity formation and reflects a concerted effort to present characters from a variety of diverse backgrounds, the novel excels in diving head-on into the deep moral and existential quandaries unplanned pregnancy and adoption present. On the one hand, Bridget expresses the view that “adoption is always the story of someone breaking someone else’s heart,” just as Ivy tries to reconcile feeling fortunate—“I am the prize. I have never not felt that way”—with wondering “Why did she hand me over in the end? What did I do that was so bad?” Bridget and Ivy are white.

Gilmore’s gritty multigenerational tale not only seeks to ask adoption’s toughest questions, but dares to offer no easy answers: Not to be missed . (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-239363-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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