A substantive, sobering historical read, with just a few heaving bodices.

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GILT

The short life and times of Henry VIII's fifth wife, as seen through the eyes of her friend.

Cat Howard styles herself Queen of Misrule in the Duchess of Norfolk's maidens’ chamber (a misnomer if ever there was one). When Cat is selected to be one of Anne of Cleves’ ladies-in-waiting, she soon catches the king’s eye, and the rest, as they say, is history. Cat rescues mousy friend Kitty to attend her in her chambers, giving Kitty and readers an intimate view of that history. Hewing closely to what little is known about Howard's circumstances, Longshore allows Kitty to thread the maze of alliances that was the court of Henry VIII. She concentrates on domestic details while brushing with broad strokes the politics of the men’s world. Kitty's narration is formal, but her language is modern, a balance between authenticity and readability that is mostly successful. Her sense of her own powerlessness, and by extension all women's, even the queen’s, comes through clearly. The mounting terror as lusty, luxury-loving Cat’s fortunes fall is palpable, as is the sense that the queen is no innocent. The author’s adherence to historical detail is admirable, clashing with both title and cover, which imply far more froth than readers will find between the covers.

A substantive, sobering historical read, with just a few heaving bodices. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-01399-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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