For anyone who suffers from too-heavy expectations, Ivy will ring true in this engaging, nearly flawless coming-of-age novel.

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WILD SWANS

A young woman struggles against the expectations and messy history of her family.

In Ivy's small town on Maryland's Eastern Shore, everyone knows the curse of the Milbourn women. Incredibly talented yet tragic, the women die young, leaving behind their poems or paintings and their daughters. Ivy's mother, Erica, though, just left, dumping Ivy with her grandfather. Now 17, Ivy is looking forward to a summer without all the classes and activities Granddad has always enrolled her in, searching for her talent. But the white teen knows she's mediocre and will never live up to his expectations. And then Erica—immature, angry, and resentful—returns with her two other daughters in tow. It's just one more thing for Ivy, who's also coping with the attentions of her handsome, Mexican-American friend, Alex, who seems to want more from her, and her own interest in charismatic, dark-skinned Connor, one of her grandfather's students. Somehow, Ivy must determine whether to embrace the expectations, crumble beneath them—or set her own course. Ivy is sensitively portrayed, her struggles believably met at every turn. While some secondary characters, such as Erica and Connor, are perhaps not nuanced enough, Ivy's journey is handled perfectly, and it’s her story at heart.

For anyone who suffers from too-heavy expectations, Ivy will ring true in this engaging, nearly flawless coming-of-age novel. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2216-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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