A magical-realist adventure laced with folk guitar and outcast drifters unpacks the bonds of family—those we are born into...

DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD

Cass and Blue made a deal after their mother died of cancer: they would always talk on Mama’s birthday. Last year there was only a voicemail from Cass, and this year the call didn’t come at all.

Blue, 17, knows she must find her older sister. This urgency drives the white teen to meet the woman in the red dress at a crossroads at midnight and make a deal—her soul in exchange for her sister. But the woman in red is more interested in a gamble than an even trade, so she steals Blue’s voice and sends her off on a surreal all-or-nothing quest in which the rules of the game, and sometimes reality itself, shift and bend. Hoping to find Cass along the way, Blue re-creates the journey that decades ago brought together her mother and Tish, her partner in music and life. Blue meets an assorted cast of characters on her odyssey, all wandering for their own diverse reasons. The woman in red is never far away, compelling Blue to keep moving toward the family secrets she must uncover in order to rediscover the voice that is authentically her own. Mason-Black’s poignant debut novel takes Blue from small-town Maine, “where lesbian musicians were an oddity, and gay kids still suffered at the hands of their peers,” on a tour of America’s marginalized, her mutism eliciting confusion, confessions, and sympathy along the way.

A magical-realist adventure laced with folk guitar and outcast drifters unpacks the bonds of family—those we are born into and those we choose. (Magical realism. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2000-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

STAY GOLD

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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