A MILLION MILES FROM BOSTON

With sixth grade—and elementary school—finally over, Lucy is excited about summer. As usual, she’ll be spending it with her widowed father and younger brother in the family’s summer cottage in a tight-knit coastal vacation community in Maine. But two major changes threaten to ruin her vacation. Annoying, almost-a-bully classmate Ian and his family are new summer neighbors, and the PT, her father’s girlfriend (she began as his physical therapist), will be visiting—a lot. Lucy has plenty of issues with the PT, mostly related to her unresolved grief over her mother’s death six years ago. Ian also has issues, which seem to be tied to his high-school–aged sister, Alison. Is she what she first appears—smart, talented and a lot like Lucy—or perhaps a bullying, manipulative liar? To raise money for a kayak, Lucy has carefully organized a babysitting camp for the community’s younger children, patiently dealing with their problems, and she introspectively examines her relationship with Ian in her first-person narration. These signs of maturity make her frequent outbursts over the PT’s gentle overtures out of character. As the summer progresses, Lucy gets to know both Ian and the PT better, discovering that things and people aren’t always what they first appear. A pleasant but never compelling effort that captures the flavor of preteen-hood even if it misses the mark with its protagonist. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73899-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories.

FINAL SEASON

A star 12-year-old quarterback has a championship to win, a developing family tragedy to cope with, and a life-changing decision to make.

Barely disguising the autobiographical elements contained here in the wake of his own diagnosis of ALS, former Atlanta Falcons player Green places his protagonist, Ben Redd, in a football family and on an upstate New York team coached by his dad and two older brothers—all former gridiron stars themselves. Ben’s anticipation as he looks forward to a season that will be capped by a game against archrival Penn Yan battles with his terror as he watches his father’s NFL injuries come home to roost in slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, and, eventually, a frantic trip to the hospital for an emergency tracheotomy. But as Ben’s parents, both iron willed, clash over whether he should be allowed to follow the family career path (and one of his brothers even announces that none of his kids will ever play), the sport’s allure comes through in a series of exciting clashes, with Ben and wonderfully hard-nosed new teammate, Thea Jean, leading the on-field heroics on the way to a last-yard, smash-mouth finale that leaves him dazed and exultant, with a broken finger, a probable concussion…and a choice of futures. Though the cast is mostly male and mostly White, between them, Thea and Ben’s mom add strong female representation.

An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-248595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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