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Deft, page-turning, and fresh as the latest college admissions gossip.

Ripped from the headlines of the 2019 Varsity Blues admissions scandal.

Seventeen-year-old Chloe Berringer is the wealthy, white daughter of Joy Fields, beloved TV sitcom star. An indifferent student, Chloe attends private school and is stunned by the revelation that her entire application was doctored. Chloe wrestles with guilt, shame, anger, brutal social media responses, and frayed family relationships following the revelation of her parents’ cheating and bribery. The intersections of race, class, and privilege are explored primarily through Chloe’s relationship with her best friend, Shola, a Nigerian American girl on scholarship at the school. The chapters alternate between the present day, beginning when her mother is arrested, and the point leading up to the arrest, starting three weeks into her senior year. Knowing that there were dozens of real-life students coping with similar crimes and the deep betrayal of their trust in their parents makes Chloe’s tale both heartbreaking and thought-provoking. Believable subplots focus on her love interest (a biracial Asian Indian/white boy), undocumented immigrants (through Chloe’s mentoring of a young El Salvadoran boy), and the pain of drug addiction (through her older half brother). While not entirely one-dimensional, supporting characters who do not share Chloe's racial and financial privilege sometimes seem to be present as devices to support her awakening.

Deft, page-turning, and fresh as the latest college admissions gossip. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984893-62-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A boarding school mystery that tackles fresh topics but struggles to knit together multiple complex narratives.

A mystery upends a London girl’s attempts to heal her grief-stricken life.

Recently orphaned Sade Hussein, a wealthy Nigerian British Muslim 16-year-old, was home-schooled before she entered the Alfred Nobel Academy, an international boarding school. There she meets Elizabeth Wang, her roommate and “house sibling,” a role describing those assigned to help new students acclimate. Sade soon becomes familiar with the school cliques, including the infamous—and beautiful—Unholy Trinity, comprising Persephone Stuart, Julliette de Silva, and queen bee April Owens (who used to room with Elizabeth). Sade’s new friendship with her roommate is abruptly interrupted when Elizabeth goes missing, and the Unholy Trinity approach Sade, curious about what might have happened. Meanwhile, Sade is investigating with Basil dos Santos, Elizabeth’s best friend, when a music box belonging to the missing girl mysteriously appears on Elizabeth’s bed. When attractive playboy athlete Jude Ripley shows an unwanted interest in Sade, one of her new friendships is negatively affected. Along with dealing with a missing roommate and complicated social dynamics, Sade, who struggles with panic attacks and night terrors, is haunted by a ghost girl, who visits her in regular nightmares and begs her for help. The very large cast, the uneven pacing and characterization, and the presence of several complicated storylines slow down the flow of this ambitious story. The characters are broadly diverse in ethnicity and nationality.

A boarding school mystery that tackles fresh topics but struggles to knit together multiple complex narratives. (content warning) (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 19, 2024

ISBN: 9781250800848

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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Affirming, uplifting, and thoughtful.

A college-bound teen with cerebral palsy learns to advocate for herself.

Even though her friends are buzzing about senior year and their college plans, Greek American Euphemia Galanos can’t muster the same enthusiasm. For Effie, an aspiring journalist, choosing a college is fraught with additional variables: Are the dorms wheelchair accessible? How easily can she navigate campus? Such concerns threaten to derail her dream of attending New York’s prestigious Prospect University, home to an excellent journalism program…and the choice of her crush, Wilder. As if Effie doesn’t have enough on her plate, she faces discrimination from Mill City High’s administration—and this time, her mother insists she manage things herself. But Effie isn’t used to speaking up, and her efforts go awry. How can she show her mom she can handle moving from Minnesota to New York if she can’t be assertive? And will she ever get the chance to tell Wilder how she feels? Forrest, also a wheelchair user with CP, explores the role of media representation in developing self-confidence and refreshingly highlights the importance of disabled peers. Readers will appreciate Effie’s conflicted, insightful introspection and appraisals of her options; those who struggle to speak up will empathize as she finds her voice. Supportive friends and family and a sweet romance add warmth. Wilder reads White; there’s some racial diversity among the supporting cast members.

Affirming, uplifting, and thoughtful. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781338813838

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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