A gritty, raw account of surviving tragedy one minute at a time.

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HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DARK

Sixteen-year-old Tiger Tolliver’s struggles are relatively minor—she’s stuck in secondhand threads and lusts after her biology partner—until her overprotective but loving mother unexpectedly dies.

For more than 200 pages, readers endure with Tiger the two weeks that follow her mother’s death. A minor with no known living relatives, Tiger becomes a ward of the state of Arizona, sharing foster homes with kids who have been abused and abandoned. She finds herself responsible for the logistics of death, such as the funeral planning and ordering death certificates. Tiger obsesses over the last words she screamed to her mom, “Why can’t you ever just fucking leave me alone?” and refuses to take off the outmoded dress that was the last thing her mother ever bought her. The onslaught of grief and regret is so intimate that at times the novel feels claustrophobic, as if there is no escape. Which, of course, for Tiger, there isn’t. There’s only surrender to her new normal. A few glimmers of hope appear in the form of friendships and kindnesses, but this narrative is chiefly a first-person experience of the void left behind when the most important person in a young woman’s life is suddenly gone. It’s visceral and traumatic, pulsing with ache. Tiger is white, and many secondary characters are black and Latinx.

A gritty, raw account of surviving tragedy one minute at a time. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-93475-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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