#FAMOUS

A viral photo throws two teenagers’ lives into chaos.

When nerdy white girl Rachel takes a covert picture of dreamy white boy Kyle as he works at his fast-food job, she thinks nothing of posting the pic on Flit with a catchy hashtag: #idlikefrieswithTHAT. The picture quickly goes viral, with Kyle’s follower count climbing into the tens of thousands. After a daytime talk show gets its hands on Kyle and Rachel, the two classmates find themselves in increasingly close quarters. Romance blossoms while an ex-girlfriend and ex-friend throw wrenches in the works, the narration flipping between Rachel and Kyle. Kyle is nothing but a schmuck with a haircut, haplessly speaking without thinking and bemoaning his inability to understand subtext. It gets old fast. Rachel’s narrative starts out promisingly: her online experience is filled with scorn and ridicule. Gagnon brushes up against the gender gaps in the social media age but quickly abandons it for the “nerd girl dates popular guy” trope. Given Kyle’s lack of substance, this betrays Rachel’s credibility as a strong female protagonist. She also fails to follow through on the social media issues she tees up. Once the pic is posted, a TV show quickly becomes the focus of the couple’s storyline, and the story treads familiar “we’re different people when the cameras aren’t rolling” territory.

A missed opportunity. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243003-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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