Buoyant writing and wry humor balance the pathos in this powerful debut, a moving tale of friendship as refuge and shield...

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FANS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE

Failed by the institutions and adults who rule their lives, three stressed-out teens rely on their friendship to overcome—or at least survive—abuse, depression, and homophobia.

Having been brutally outed by classmates, Jeremy dreads returning to St. Francis Prep, but at a teacher’s urging, he reluctantly starts an art club. His first recruit is Mira, whose crippling depression last year landed her in a hospital psych ward. There, she met Sebby, who’d been savagely beaten by school homophobes. Their bond became a lifeline for each; now their friendship nourishes Jeremy. Whether it can replace adult support is another matter. Jeremy’s the child of supportive, emotionally mature dads. Mira’s the biracial daughter of a workaholic black lawyer and white stay-at-home mom; her high-achieving sister’s at Harvard. Their high expectations weigh heavily on Mira. Orphaned, openly gay Sebby has endured multiple foster placements. He lacks a safety net. Terrified to return to school, he lies about where he spends his days to his foster mother. Well-intentioned but unfit to parent a gay teen, she threatens to send him to a group home. Constrained by his teacher role, Peter—the adult best-equipped to offer support—can do little as stresses mount. Rounded characters large and small, drawn with insight and empathy, drive the plot.

Buoyant writing and wry humor balance the pathos in this powerful debut, a moving tale of friendship as refuge and shield against a hostile world . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-233175-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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

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