A thought-provoking look at oppression and the power of words from a viewpoint not often heard.

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FACTORY GIRL

When Roshen, a 16-year-old Uighur girl from northern China, is sent away for a year to work at the Hubei Work Wear Company, a factory in the south, she faces cultural, societal, physical, and psychological challenges far beyond her worst nightmares.

Roshen is proud to be Uighur, an ethnically Turkic enclave with its own language, customs, and culture apart from China’s and whom the Chinese government mistrusts. Before she leaves, Roshen’s beloved, Ahmat, gives her a white jade pendant as a symbol of his faithfulness. Hoping for possible email exchanges, they create secret codes, so as not to arouse governmental suspicion. On route to the factory, Roshen meets Ushi, the cruel Chinese matron who favors the Chinese girls and forbids the Uighur girls to speak their native language—they must only speak Mandarin. Forced to work long and to avoid food the Uighur can’t possibly eat, Roshen bonds with her co-workers, including Mikay, the most outspoken, Zuwida, the most fragile, and Hawa, perhaps the most misunderstood. It is through these friendships that the story engages the most. Roshen’s perseverance sears as she struggles to preserve her sanity and her heritage by remembering and secretly writing Uighur poems in her notebook. The Chinese and Uighur girls’ divisiveness feels familiar when cultures clash. A senior editor at Radio Free Asia contributes an afterword providing context.

A thought-provoking look at oppression and the power of words from a viewpoint not often heard. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-69947-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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