Family mental illness is rarely explored in novels for teens, but this one, trudging a well-worn path across too-familiar...

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THE LAW OF LOVING OTHERS

Home for the holidays from her posh Pennsylvania boarding school, high school junior Emma is shocked to learn her mother’s long-hidden schizophrenia has resurfaced.

Emma feels blindsided by both her mother’s behavior—she suffers from the delusion that their family is under constant, creepy surveillance—and the belated disclosure of her illness. (Diagnosed years earlier, it’s been well-controlled with medication.) Emma seeks solace with her boyfriend, Daniel, but needy, anxious and subject to panic attacks, she wants more than he is prepared to give. Phil, whose brother is a fellow patient of Emma’s mother, is more understanding—and attractive. Emma’s fear of developing her mother’s condition isn’t easily assuaged, however. Daniel, Phil, her mother and other characters are briefly allowed to speak for themselves and then elbowed aside, sentenced to storytelling limbo so Emma can do it for them. A hands-on narrator, self-involved Emma’s hard to like. Title notwithstanding, hers is a narcissistic world of bright, overprivileged teens who in their copious free time enjoy casual sex, drink heavily, smoke weed and snort cocaine with friends and at home, with tacit parental consent if not approval, in settings ranging from affluent Westchester suburbs to a spacious apartment on Central Park West.

Family mental illness is rarely explored in novels for teens, but this one, trudging a well-worn path across too-familiar terrain, fails to fill the void. (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-789-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

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...

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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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Best leave it at maybe so.

YES NO MAYBE SO

Two 17-year-olds from the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, work together on a campaign for a progressive state senate candidate in an unlikely love story.

Co-authors Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Saeed (Bilal Cooks Daal, 2019, etc.) present Jamie Goldberg, a white Ashkenazi Jewish boy who suffers from being “painfully bad at anything girl-related,” and Maya Rehman, a Pakistani American Muslim girl struggling with her parents’ sudden separation. Former childhood best friends, they find themselves volunteered as a team by their mothers during a Ramadan “campaign iftar.” One canvassing adventure at a time, they grow closer despite Maya’s no-dating policy. Chapters alternate between Maya’s and Jamie’s first-person voices. The endearing, if somewhat clichéd, teens sweetly connect over similarities like divorced parents, and their activism will resonate with many. Jamie is sensitive, clumsy, and insecure; Maya is determined, sassy, a dash spoiled, and she swears freely. The novel covers timeless themes of teen activism and love-conquers-all along with election highs and lows, messy divorces, teen angst, bat mitzvah stress, social media gaffes, right-wing haters, friendship drama, and cultural misunderstandings, but the explicit advocacy at times interferes with an immersive reading experience and the text often feels repetitious. Maya’s mother is hijabi, and while Maya advocates against a hijab ban, she chooses not to wear hijab and actively wrestles with what it means to be an observant Muslim.

Best leave it at maybe so. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293704-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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