A thought-provoking but flawed look into cults and homelessness.

READ REVIEW

THE RIGHT AND THE REAL

The daughter of a well-to-do recovering alcoholic becomes homeless after her father joins a cult.

At Jamie's father's wedding to a woman from The Right & the Real Church of Christ, the church's spiritual leader insists that Jamie sign a Pledge committing herself to the Right & the Real. When she refuses, Jamie finds herself kicked out of her house. Determined and self-reliant, Jamie keeps her homelessness a secret, afraid that if she tells the truth to friends or authority figures, she will be sent to live with her drug-addicted mother in Los Angeles. After a dismal search for accommodations, she ends up at a dirty pay-by-the-week motel. There, she finds a mentor in LaVon, a grandfather and parolee who teaches her how to cook and clean and ultimately risks his own freedom to help Jamie and her father. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Josh, another church member, starts hiding the pair's relationship in increasingly humiliating ways; readers will find Jamie irritatingly oblivious to her feelings for another boy as this subplot continues. Jamie's family drama and her struggle to stay fed, sheltered and in school are compelling; LaVon, unfortunately, seems more an instrument for the white protagonist's growth than a person in his own right, a troubling role for a black character.

A thought-provoking but flawed look into cults and homelessness. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25525-02

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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DEATH BENEFITS

In this character-driven intergenerational story, Royce Peterson and his single mother have recently moved from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to help care for Arthur, Royce’s 95-year-old grandfather and one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. After the curmudgeon chases off every aide, the teen is enlisted to watch his grandfather. At first the homesick, friendless and mono-recovering teen and his homebound, rude and crude grandfather are at odds, but then Royce gains new appreciation for Arthur—he caroused with Gloria Vanderbilt and Picasso, traveled the world, loved and lost loves—and Arthur begins to appreciate life again. But just as the pair begins to respect each other, Arthur suffers a series of debilitating strokes and asks Royce to end his life. Inspired by her experience caring for her aged father, Harvey offers a realistic view of the aging process, the difficult decisions left to loved ones and the need for friends and family. Sophisticated readers and fans of Joan Bauer’s Rules of the Road (1998) or Louis Sachar's The Cardturner (2010) will enjoy the grandfather-grandson banter and tenderness. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55146-226-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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