This poignant novel presents us with a girl on the cusp of womanhood desperately trying to navigate the dissonant...

THIS BOOK BETRAYS MY BROTHER

A story of one girl’s attempts to understand and abide by the unspoken rules of familial loyalty in a post-apartheid South African town.

Molope (The Mending Season, 2005, etc.) introduces us to Basimane, the first son of a South African family, through the voice of his sister, Naledi. When, as an adult, Naledi sees a woman from her youth, a tiny scar on the woman’s face kick-starts reveries of her childhood and the one fateful night that changed little for her brother and parents but everything for Naledi and her closest friend, Ole, who hid her sexuality in their community. Naledi and Basimane lead affluent lives, embedded in a society fraught with issues of racism and classism as well as intergenerational gendered expectations. When their father’s business success enables them to move up in society Basimane continues his close association with his old friends, the township boys, much to his mother’s chagrin. Meanwhile Naledi oscillates between nostalgia and embracing the social distance her mother imposes. She closely watches her older brother’s violent treatment of women, attempting to reconcile his hypocritical behavior as he simultaneously seeks justice for his best friend’s mother, incarcerated for self-defense in the face of domestic violence.

This poignant novel presents us with a girl on the cusp of womanhood desperately trying to navigate the dissonant sociocultural imperatives placed on men and women in her society . (Fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-988449-29-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Mawenzi House

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told.

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SOLO

The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love.

On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion.

A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-310-76183-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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