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The revelation that every time a new Martin is born into his family another one kicks the bucket stuns, bums and ultimately lights a rocket under 13-year-old Martin Boyle. Friesen presents his earnest narrator as a lad so under the influence of his fanatically safety-conscious mother that he flies into a panic at any encounter with nature (“They’re only trees. They’re only ugly trees. They’re only ugly, boy-hating trees. They’re only ugly, boy-hating, hungry—”) and wears a portable air bag on the school bus. The discovery of matching birth and death dates for all the Martins in the Boyle family cemetery sends Martin into a tailspin, but with help from a sturdy supporting cast he pulls out and firmly resolves to grab life with both hands while finding a way to break the “curse,” if he can, in the few months remaining to him until his Aunt Jenny’s due date. These helpers notably include Poole, a young vagrant with a relentlessly sunny outlook, and classmate Julia, to whom Martin fears to speak until she takes his developing story about the adventures of a White Knight and his Lady Love and creates gorgeous illustrations. Spiced with plenty of slapstick, the yarn speeds its protagonist through a succession of highs, lows and improbable triumphs on the way to a hilariously melodramatic finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-310-72080-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Tender and thought-provoking but wobbling on a shaky moral compass

A shy, injured Jewish teen travels from Berkeley’s 1964 student protests to 11th-century Paris, where only she can save a newborn.

Hope, the granddaughter of Blue Thread’s (2012) suffragist heroine, is a lovely singer but has trouble speaking out. She’s shy, for one thing, and ashamed of her stutter. She’s overwhelmed by her pushy older siblings. And finally, she has facial scarring—and occasional acid flashbacks—from injuries sustained when she accidentally downed LSD disguised as candy. At first, she takes it for a flashback when she’s visited by Serakh, a time traveler from biblical times, but Serakh is very real and needs her help. In the year 1099, young Dolcette has just given birth, and her husband, Avram, is convinced a vision has ordered him to kill the child; Serakh is certain Hope will be the child’s salvation. Hope wonders if his visions might come from a similar source as her own flashbacks. Meanwhile, in the modern world, Hope’s self-absorbed and strong-willed siblings threaten to drag her into more trouble than she can handle. As Hope pops between Hanukkahs nearly 900 years apart, she needs to solve her own family crises while navigating modern radical politics and saving a child’s life. A character in the 20th century is rightly condemned (by Hope and the novel) for thinking one can solve other people’s problems by slipping them hallucinogens; unfortunately Hope’s solution to Avram’s problem rests on that very act.

Tender and thought-provoking but wobbling on a shaky moral compass . (Historical fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932010-65-7

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Focusing on family, friendship, and faith, this work provides insights into adolescent difficulties.

Micah prepares for his bar mitzvah, which he’ll share with Alana, his sister who’s 10 months older.

Micah is a nerdy, artistic Jewish boy from Salinas, California, who has only one pal, Omar. His sister, once his close companion, now has her own cool, social media–obsessed friends. Micah’s coping with too much: Hebrew school and extra sessions with the rabbi to learn his Torah portion; regular school, where antisemitic students taunt him; and the stress of his grandmother’s memory loss. The book contains solemn religious references, including sessions with Rabbi Delnick (who’s a woman), but Micah also rails against the Jewish faith. He has a bad fight with his mom when she reveals he was an accident, born sooner after his sister than his parents would have wanted, but the unity of his extended family shines through. The dramedy occasionally veers into an adult sensibility before returning to scary nightmares and emotional outbursts. The emphasis on religion and Grams’ Alzheimer’s may limit the work’s appeal, but Micah’s realistic travails and eventual triumphs will interest readers who are experiencing their own awkward stages. The setting is contemporary, but the panels have a retro look with flat, static images and a 1970s color palette. Micah’s family is white; Omar is cued Mexican American. Yiddish, Hebrew, and Spanish words are defined in a glossary and explained in the text.

Focusing on family, friendship, and faith, this work provides insights into adolescent difficulties. (author’s note) (Graphic fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781684813568

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Mango

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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