Verdi’s book is a triumph—an exquisite mirror in which trans parents and their children will see themselves. And for once,...

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AND SHE WAS

Eighteen-year-old white tennis phenom Dara is so good that her coach wants her to start competing in tournaments, and she’ll need a passport—but her single mother, Mellie, is short on cash and has no interest in supporting Dara’s tennis career.

Mellie insists she lost Dara’s birth certificate, but one day after Mellie leaves for work, Dara finds it in a locked box—along with other secrets that flip her world over. Her birth mother was struck by a car and killed before Dara turned 1, and Mellie—her father—is transgender and kept it all from Dara. Furious and hurt and accompanied by her Indian-American best friend, Sam, Dara goes to find her birth mother’s family. Mellie’s baffling series of lies to her daughter is revealed to have very good reasons, and the story behind them unfolds in a series of emails Mellie sends to Dara as she’s on the road. Dara is the main character, but Mellie is the book’s heart, and she’s incredible: a complicated, soulful, talented, and loving transwoman whose emails could be their own book. Verdi’s respect and care are evident in every character in the book, no matter how brief their appearance, especially boy-next-door Sam and Dara’s wealthy, ultraconservative grandparents, who, although they do some terrible things, aren’t written off as evil.

Verdi’s book is a triumph—an exquisite mirror in which trans parents and their children will see themselves. And for once, the reflection won’t break their hearts. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-15053-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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