PUDDIN'

Vandalism throws a teen of unflagging cheer into regular contact with her polar opposite in this novel told in alternating first-person chapters.

Millie’s decided to end her nine-year stint at weight-loss summer camp: She’s fine being fat, which weight-loss camp hasn’t changed anyway. Instead, she’s applying—behind her parents’ backs—to a broadcast journalism program. Meanwhile, she’s bouncily organizing sleepovers with her friends and flirting with Malik, an attractive South Asian boy at school. But when Millie’s aunt and uncle’s gym is vandalized by the dance team after being forced by poor profits to withdraw its sponsorship, the only team member to get caught—and required to work alongside Millie at the gym—is Callie Reyes, whose prickly affect stands in contrast to Millie’s sunny optimism. Callie is grappling with being biracial while living with her racially unaware white mother, stepfather, and half sister. Speaking little Spanish, she sometimes feels out of place with other Mexican-Americans yet frequently experiences casual racism from strangers and her exploitative boyfriend. And the supposed everlasting sisterhood of her fellow dance team members falls at the first hurdle. Millie’s oblivious arrogance toward a friend who comes out as asexual and toward Callie over racial identity is handled far too perfunctorily, but Murphy’s plot brims with unlikely friendships, irresistible romance, fabulous fat acceptance, and a kick-ass ending.

Buoying. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-241838-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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