A different kind of war story, highly recommended.

GRAFFITI KNIGHT

This gripping page-turner set in 1947 East Germany explores the aftereffects of war and occupation.

World War II is over and Germany partitioned among the victors. For most in the Soviet-occupied zone, life is grim and anything but peaceful. Hunger’s a constant companion, trust in short supply. Most despise their Russian masters and even more, the German police—Schupos—who do their bidding. With their elders embittered and broken, friendship sustains 16-year-old narrator Wilm and his friends, Karl and Georg. Pretending to spy on the Schupos blows off steam, but after the Schupos beat up Wilm’s amputee father and Wilm learns of the brutal sexual assault on his sister, Anneliese, the game turns real. Supported by Karl and Georg, Wilm starts by scrawling graffiti calling the Schupos “puppets” and vandalizing police vehicles. Risk-taking proves energizing and deeply satisfying—also addictive and eventually desensitizing. It’s at odds with his growing interest in building bridges. The engineer who mentors him lends him books and encourages his interest, but their connection weakens as Wilm’s acts of sabotage escalate. The authentic setting, compelling characters, and taut, suspenseful plot claim attention throughout. Bass refuses to oversimplify human beings. When motivations are tangled and complex, actions, even the best-intended, have unforeseen consequences. 

A different kind of war story, highly recommended. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927485-53-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an...

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE SUMMER

Can teenage love ever be forever?

Isabel (Belly) from The Summer I Turned Pretty (2009) and It’s Not Summer Without You (2010) finishes up her freshman year at college somewhat unconvincingly committed to Jeremiah Fisher, one of the two brothers with whom she has spent summers since she was small. Isabel becomes furious to learn that Jeremiah had sex with another girl from their college in Cabo on spring break, but he wins back her affections with a grand gesture: a proposal of marriage. Caught up in the idea—she will plan a summer wedding! they will attend college as a married couple!—Isabel tries ignores her misgivings about Jeremiah, the appalled silence of her mother and her own still-strong feelings for Jeremiah’s older brother, Conrad. It’s both funny and believable when Jeremiah insists he wants to dance the wedding dance to “You Never Can Tell” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Han gives a satisfying nod to wedding-planning fantasies even while revealing their flimsy basis for an actual marriage. A final chapter in 23-year-old Isabel’s voice reveals the not-so-surprising happy ending.

Han’s impressive ear for and pitch-perfect reproduction of the interactions between not-quite-adult older teens make this an appealing conclusion to this trilogy romance among bright middle-class young people. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9558-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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