Sure, the plot is inconceivable, but isn’t life? And death? (Fantasy. 14-18)

I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL

A feel-good novel about being dead? Only in this quirky, even romantic story.

Sarah Evans would never be caught dead in mango, until, well, she wakes up dead in a mango chiffon dress at Minnesota’s Mall of America. The 16-year-old New Yorker, the victim of food poisoning intended for her wealthy father, finds herself among other teens, all murdered, from New York City. They become stuck at the mall while they take care of unfinished business in the living world and reconcile their feelings for their new state of being. Unlike her fellow humans (alive or dead), Sarah has a gift, called the Knowing, which allows her to foresee unfortunate events in the future. While she wasn’t able to stop her own mother’s death, she may be able to thwart her new, greedy stepmother’s attempt to kill her father. But she’ll need the help of her fellow mall-mates. Although time and socio-economics would have prevented many of them from knowing one another, they become fast friends. Sarah’s conversational, quick-paced, first-person narrative, full of “deadly” puns and idioms, recounts how she and her new BFFs (even in death?) work together. And when Sarah finds love in the process, she realizes she’s only learned how to live by being dead.

Sure, the plot is inconceivable, but isn’t life? And death? (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-51246-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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  • Stonewall Book Awards Winner

  • National Book Award Winner

LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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