It’s chick lit with redeeming features that may help it appeal to a wide audience.

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HE'S SO NOT WORTH IT

From the He's So/She's So Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Ally wants her dad and her boyfriend, Jake, to come back; Jake wants Ally back, but he can’t figure out how to approach her. Failure for both leads to over 300 pages of tantrums, but the teens will learn in the end, as might some readers.

In chapters dominated by Ally but punctuated by passages about Jake, Scott spins her story of adolescent angst. Ally wants to escape being one of the rich kids whose families vacation every summer in expensive beach homes. She doesn’t want to stay with her mom’s new boyfriend, but she makes an impulsive decision to go to the shore anyway and begins a relationship with a local boy who clearly stands on the wrong side of the law. Jake’s mom grounds him for the summer, forcing him to get a summer job with none other than Ally’s dad, now running a local coffee shop. Both teens react with frequent, instant and extreme anger when their fantasies fail to meet reality. The author plays fair by highlighting the stupidity and rudeness of many of their actions, allowing readers to assess the behavior realistically. As Ally makes ever-more-foolish decisions, Jake eventually moves in the opposite direction and helps to save the day.

It’s chick lit with redeeming features that may help it appeal to a wide audience. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1416999539

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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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