Important stories are overshadowed by too many subplots.

PARACHUTES

A wealthy Chinese teen is sent to America on her own to attend private school.

Claire is a rich 11th grader in Shanghai; Dani is a scholarship student at a private school in Southern California who helps her mother clean houses. When Claire is parachuted into America to finish high school and Dani’s mother needs the income from a boarder, they become unlikely housemates. Told in alternating voices, Yang’s YA debut tells two disparate narratives that overlap but, unfortunately, never truly connect. In one, Claire is swept off her feet by one of the cutest (and richest) boys in school—by his attention, his mansion, and his Lamborghini. Meanwhile, Dani, whose mother is Filipina and whose absent father’s ethnicity is unspecified, believes that securing a spot at an upcoming debate tournament will be her ticket to Yale. Her debate coach singles her out for attention but crosses the line into predatory behavior; Claire’s experiences are also traumatic. While these developments are heartbreaking, compelling, and ultimately empowering, they follow lengthy exposition and plotlines involving several secondary characters. Unfortunately, supporting characters are portrayed flatly, without true exploration, so each comes to represent a stereotype whose purpose seems to be teaching readers about a particular experience or point of view. Claire’s and Dani’s stories are much more nuanced, but the overall result is an uneven and lengthy read.

Important stories are overshadowed by too many subplots. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294108-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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