Not exactly coming-of-age but definitely coming-in-range.

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OUR YEAR IN LOVE AND PARTIES

Letting go of your past is hard, as two teens learn during four nights of parties over one year.

Despite their age difference, Tucker Campanelli and Erika Green really clicked when they worked together, but that was two summers ago. Now Tucker, plagued by his fraught relationship with his abusive, dying father, has little enthusiasm for his last year of high school. Erika, still coping with the fallout from a leaked sex video, didn’t much enjoy her freshman year at college. When they reconnect at an impromptu end-of-the-summer bash, it prompts months of flirting, fighting, and, finally, a friendship encouraging both to mature. The repetitive pattern—attraction, misunderstanding, insult, apology—can get tiresome, but their alternating viewpoints reveal complicated, sympathetic characters. Tucker, endearingly goofy and nerdy, is consumed by low self-esteem and self-pity; smart, compassionate Erika is also bitter, mistrustful, and crippled by internalized shame; both are self-absorbed to the point of wounding their supportive families and friends. While the protagonists are white, the racial, ethnic, economic, and sexual diversity of suburban D.C. appears in their social circle along with a culture of casual sex and underage drinking studded with pop-cultural references (which may date quickly). Some readers will be exasperated by their relationship’s lack of resolution; others will adore the echo of real life’s sloppy coincidences and messy ambiguities.

Not exactly coming-of-age but definitely coming-in-range. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-241023-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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

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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Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier.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

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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