Entertaining and insightful for young dancers. (Fiction. 12-18)

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SHIMMY

From the Orca Limelights series

Lila wants to become a professional belly dancer but learns that she might have chosen a more difficult road than she expected.

Lila, along with everyone who knows her, is sure she was born to dance. She thoroughly enjoys the belly-dancing classes she takes from Amala and has a wonderful time dancing with her friends as they prepare to perform in an upcoming festival. When Amala gives her a chance to join Dana’s studio instead, however, Lila leaps at the opportunity. Dana is a renowned professional, and many of her students go on to similar success. Dana works Lila so hard, however, that she becomes stressed. Although she knows she’s learning a great deal, she isn’t having fun. Plus, she misses her best friend, Angela, who still dances with Amala, and has trouble keeping up with her schoolwork. More stress comes when Lila learns that Dana will be cutting two dancers before their appearance at the festival. Lila realizes that she may have to choose between becoming a professional and dancing with her friends for fun. Jones writes this novella in a simple, highly readable style. The author’s descriptions of the dances are some of the most interesting segments of the story. If the characterizations come across as a bit flat by contrast, nevertheless young readers will be focusing on the choices that Lila faces.

Entertaining and insightful for young dancers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0764-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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

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