An endearing novel that gives hope to those who know what it’s like being different.

HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON

A gay high schooler contends with romance, college, and racial/sexual self-acceptance in this entertaining coming-of-age dramedy.

Remy Cameron is determined not to have a relationship this year. After the heartbreak of his last breakup, all he wants is to do well in AP Lit, get into Emory’s Creative Writing Program, and avoid anything remotely resembling love. Remy’s best-laid plans are thrown into chaos when Ian Park, a Korean American senior, moves back from California and comes onto his radar. Add to that some friends wanting to increase LGBTQ representation on the homecoming court and his lit teacher’s assigning an essay about what identity defines him, and Remy’s junior year is set to be anything but peaceful. In his sophomore novel, Winters (Running With Lions, 2018) fills a Georgia high school with characters so rich and realistic that readers might expect to bump into them in the school hallways. The racial and sexual diversity that pervades this novel feels refreshingly authentic, and Remy’s struggles with being black, adopted, and gay demonstrate the author’s skill as a storyteller and his respect for the weight of the issues at play. The relationships among the members of the mixed-race Cameron family (Remy’s parents are white) and between Remy and his friends are nuanced and reflect a hopeful future for America.

An endearing novel that gives hope to those who know what it’s like being different. (Fiction 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-945053-80-1

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Duet

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers...

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PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING

Seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero searches for the truth about his cousin’s death amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs while on an epic trip back to his native Philippines.

Shocked out of his senioritis slumber when his beloved cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines for presumably using drugs, Jay makes a radical move to spend his spring break in the Philippines to find out the whole story. Once pen pals, Jay hasn’t corresponded with Jun in years and is wracked by guilt at ghosting his cousin. A mixed heritage (his mother is white) Filipino immigrant who grew up in suburban Michigan, Jay’s connection to current-day Philippines has dulled from assimilation. His internal tensions around culture, identity, and languages—as “a spoiled American”—are realistic. Told through a mix of first-person narration, Jun’s letters to Jay, and believable dialogue among a strong, full cast of characters, the result is a deeply emotional story about family ties, addiction, and the complexity of truth. The tender relationship between Jay and Jun is especially notable—as is the underlying commentary about the challenges and nuances between young men and their uncles, fathers, male friends, and male cousins.

Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth. (author’s note, recommended reading) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55491-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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