THIS BOOK BETRAYS MY BROTHER

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

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 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

INDIVISIBLE

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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