A satisfying examination of morality and the decisions that change our lives.

THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP

Debate is Tanner’s talent, but is he good enough to succeed at his new school?

If Tanner does well at Bannerman Prep, he has a good chance at getting a scholarship to an elite college. It’s just his luck to land Andrew Tate, or “the Duke,” as everyone calls him, as a debate partner. The Duke does very little in the way of preparation, leaving all the work to Tanner, so Tanner is surprised when they actually perform really well together. The two white teens start to spend more and more time together, along with the rest of the members of the debate team, a couple of whom are described as people of color. But there’s a price to this life, and Tanner, with worries about his overworked mom and disabled younger brother, can’t afford that price. In her debut novel, Nelson offers a contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby that goes beyond many of the themes of the original novel to make for a spirited look at what happens when a good kid makes some bad choices in a place where consequences don’t always follow. The private school setting is written with an authentic mix of charm and weirdness, although the characters are perhaps overly iconic in their wealthy kid/poor kid roles.

A satisfying examination of morality and the decisions that change our lives. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1040-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon.

SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

A gay teen contends with time travel—and homophobia through the decades.

All Cuban American Luis wants is to be prom king with his boyfriend, but tiny upstate New York boarding school Antic Springs Academy, with its strict, Christian code of conduct, won’t even let them hold hands in public. After a disastrous prom committee meeting at which his attempt to make the event welcoming of queer couples is rejected by the principal, Luis gets quite literally knocked into the past—specifically, ASA in the year 1985. There he meets Chaz, a Black student who attended the school at the same time as Luis’ parents and who died under mysterious circumstances after being bullied for his sexuality. Luis now faces a choice between changing the past to help Chaz and preserving his own future existence. Fortunately, he has Ms. Silverthorn, a Black English teacher and beloved mentor, who offers him support in both timelines. The narrative explores the impacts of homophobia and being closeted, remaining optimistic without shying away from the more brutal aspects. Luis is a multifaceted character with an engaging voice whose flaws are confronted and examined throughout. The solid pacing and pleasant, fluid prose make this a page-turner. Luis’ boyfriend is cued as Chinese American, and his best friend is nonbinary; there is some diversity in ethnicity and sexuality in background characters, although the school is predominantly White.

A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0710-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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