Enjoyable light romance with emotional baggage—call it an early winter beach read.


A snowstorm on New Year’s Eve closes Denver International Airport, canceling flights and stranding passengers; for Ryn, immobilized by grief since the death of her best friend, Lottie, a year ago, getting stuck might be just what she needs to move on.

Ryn has a meet-cute with Xander, a fellow stranded passenger and the attractive, biracial son of celebrity psychologists (white mom, African-American dad), when they accidentally exchange cellphones. Once the white teen has verified her phone still contains Lottie’s last, unread message, the two wander the airport, eat, talk, separate, and meet up again. In between, Ryn rescues Troy, a 13-year-old white child prodigy and Harvard grad student who’s on a mission to locate clues said to be secret code predicting an Illuminati-generated apocalypse. The three attend an impromptu party in an airport hotel room that their airport-employee hosts, Siri (black) and Jimmy (white), have decorated creatively with airport gleanings. As night wears on, Ryn and Xander probe each other’s secrets with interesting results. An assault of flashbacks to Ryn’s friendship with Lottie weighs down the briskly entertaining plot. Unlike the lively, multicultural airport employees, denizens, and strandees, Lottie’s a stock character, the wild white party girl, maddening but lovable, beautiful and rich, now tragically deceased. Readers, like grounded travelers, are stuck in the past with Lottie or, later, in glum therapy sessions with Ryn when they’d rather be checking out Illuminati clues with Troy or playing Stranded Passenger Bingo with Siri and Jimmy.

Enjoyable light romance with emotional baggage—call it an early winter beach read. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9918-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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


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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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.


Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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