A middle-of-the-road retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma.

THE CODE FOR LOVE AND HEARTBREAK

High school senior Emma Woodhouse, co-president of the coding club, is all about the numbers.

After Emma’s outgoing sister leaves for college on the other side of the country, Emma is forced to survive high school without her. She doesn’t have any friends besides George—who also happens to be her coding club co-president. Numbers make sense to Emma but not people, and her inexperience with relationships leads her to react insensitively to others, making her come off at times as dense and unfeeling. Emma is the last person one would suspect to create a dating app, as she’s never had a boyfriend and has no interest in one. So she surprises everyone when she writes The Code for Love to enter in the New Jersey state coding competition. While Emma thinks she can quantify love, other members of the coding club aren’t so sure she’ll succeed. At times dismissive toward those around her, Emma experiences growth throughout the novel by making friends and learning to stand up for herself. But when the couples the app matches start breaking up and she begins developing romantic feelings herself, Emma must come to terms with how complicated love can be no matter what her algorithm says. Insufficient character development leaves readers longing for greater depth and feeling a lack of investment in the outcomes of the pairings. Most characters are White. Two love matches, mentioned briefly, are same-sex couples.

A middle-of-the-road retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-335-09059-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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