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Beautifully written and brimming with love and acceptance.

A high school senior feels pressured to give up her passion for baking to achieve her immigrant parents’ Ivy League dream for her.

Aware of all the sacrifices her Cuban parents make to send her to an exclusive Catholic school in Orange County, Rubi Ramos works hard to try to get into Alma, an elite university that represents the American dream to her family. Though they own two successful bakeries, Rubi’s parents, especially her mother, are single-mindedly determined that their daughter become a lawyer someday. But while Rubi kicks butt as captain of her high school’s debate team, her heart truly lies in concocting new pastries and connecting with her Cuban heritage through her family’s special recipes. When Rubi is wait-listed by Alma but accepted into a prestigious baking contest, she struggles with making herself a competitive candidate on both fronts—while keeping it all a secret for fear of disappointing her parents. Rubi, whose father is Afro-Cuban, confronts racism and classism, particularly from a White peer who is jealous of her success. Readers will cheer for Rubi as she stands up for herself and reconciles her parents’ priorities with her dreams. Mouthwatering descriptions of food and Rubi’s blossoming romance with her supportive math tutor further sweeten this thoughtful, joyful coming-of-age story.

Beautifully written and brimming with love and acceptance. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-86252-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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