Still, the atmospheric narrative is successful at revealing the tension and texture of a distinctive time and place and one...

CALL ME BY MY NAME

A friendship between two teens, one black and one white, emerges both because and in spite of racial change in a 1970s Louisiana town.

The first time Rodney Boulet sees Tatum “Tater” Henry, he is being attacked for daring to come to a whites-only park. Despite the racial climate, Rodney and Tater become friends a few years later when Tater is the first African-American on the baseball team. Integration of the high school means that he, Rodney, and Rodney’s twin sister, Angie, will also be classmates. Angie seems to share their mother’s belief in equality, but Rodney carries many of his father’s prejudices. High school, with its emphasis on sports and dating, proves tough, especially as Tater demonstrates his talent as quarterback and he and Angie grow close. Bradley is an accomplished sportswriter and deftly evokes the cultural importance of small-town sports and how these communities experienced racial change in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Rodney and his family are richly drawn characters; indeed, narrator Rodney’s grappling with his ambivalence about race is especially well-done. Tater, on the other hand reads more like a symbol than a person. He has overcome tragedy, but readers are left to wonder at the source of his strength.

Still, the atmospheric narrative is successful at revealing the tension and texture of a distinctive time and place and one teenager’s struggle to make sense of it. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9793-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more