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RED INK

A taut portrayal of grief, pain, and the ties that bind families, to be read with a careful, critical eye.

In her debut novel, Mayhew deftly explores the ways the sudden death of 15-year-old Melon’s mother affects their family’s oral history.

The book’s nonlinear structure makes each section a moment in time that reveals a different piece of the puzzle. The chapter titles orient readers by indicating when the scene takes place in relation to Maria’s death. Interspersed between the chapters is “The Story”—Melon’s written account of the family history her mother told her again and again. The simple prose exposes the difficult realities of many teenagers in modern-day London. Melon is an explosive character. The social workers, her friends, and even the bullies at school tiptoe around her grief, which exacerbates her abrasive personality. Melon grapples with anger and guilt as she tries to understand her late mother. Her explicit and unfiltered language reflects both her frank temperament and the sensitive subjects in the narrative. The sexual objectification of the mother’s black boyfriend is an unfortunate throughline that mars the book. Despite writing Paul as a full and nuanced character, the author does not adequately address the racist underpinnings of the repeated discussions of his body.

A taut portrayal of grief, pain, and the ties that bind families, to be read with a careful, critical eye. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7731-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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  • New York Times Bestseller

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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ANNA K AWAY

From the Anna K series , Vol. 2

Entertaining.

A tale of love and loss that spans the globe.

Instead of having a carefree summer, biracial (Korean/White) Anna is sent away from the familiarity of New York, her friends, the past school year’s scandal—and the memories of her dead boyfriend, Alexia Vronsky. While struggling with grief, her shattered self-image, and an uncertain future, Anna attempts to reclaim her summer in Seoul, where she knows only her father and grandmother. Beatrice, Alexia’s cousin, juggles her clingy girlfriend and falling for a California surfer even as she represses her grief. Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, plans for an amazing summer party, although Lolly, his girlfriend, is away at theater camp. Steven’s best friend, Dustin, and Kimmie, Lolly’s younger sister, are equally nervous about their first sexual experience together. This sequel to Anna K (2020) contains fewer mentions of luxury brands, and the characters exhibit an increased awareness of the impacts of wealth and socio-economic status. The novel also touches on issues of addiction, sexism, cultural differences, fame, relationships, love, and mental health; in particular, the portrayals of living with grief and redefining the self after a loved one dies shine. Despite some awkward time skips, the humor, pop-culture references, and characters’ distinct voices strengthen the story. Fans of the first novel will enjoy this follow-up, which is also accessible to readers new to Anna and her world. Some major characters are White; Dustin is Black and Jewish, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Entertaining. (cast of characters) (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23646-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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