Both Starbird and readers will expand their worlds.

READ REVIEW

STARBIRD MURPHY AND THE WORLD OUTSIDE

One teen’s intriguing search for identity amid life in a religious cult.

While others have found their Calling, 16-year-old Starbird Murphy has been content tending to the chickens on the Free Family Farm commune she calls home in rural Washington state. Free love, shared possessions, unusual names and dubious genealogy are all she’s ever known. When she’s needed to waitress at the Free Family Café in Seattle, everyone except Starbird assumes it’s her Calling. But when EARTH, their charismatic founder and leader, fails to return from his mission and she finds Indus, who recently resolved to love only one person, kissing another girl, Starbird doesn’t hesitate to head to the big city. With a lesser author at the helm, this story would be marred by stereotypes. But as Starbird learns to navigate asphalt, high school, computers, talking to Outsiders and even handling money for the first time, she meets a range of individuals with varying degrees of faith. When the teen discovers odd deposits while helping sort through the cafe’s mismanaged accounts and calls on Outsider Ben (also with religious issues) for help, there’s no doubt that she will question her own faith (and romance). In the hands of poet Finneyfrock, Starbird gradually and realistically finds her inner voice emerging from a controlled mind.

Both Starbird and readers will expand their worlds. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-012763

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more