Blind spots around race, culture, and class distract from an otherwise thoughtful, entertaining, and politically relevant...

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FRAT GIRL

What happens when you let a feminist into a frat house? Cassandra Davis is about to find out.

When Cassandra's conservative, working-class Midwestern parents—who don’t see the value in a woman’s getting a college degree—are unable to pay the tuition for her dream school in California, she applies for and receives a full-ride scholarship on the basis of her research proposal: an undercover study of Delta Tau Chi, a fraternity plagued by accusations of sexism. At first Cassie is thrilled about the idea of taking the organization down, but after becoming the first successful female pledge in the American fraternity’s history, she finds that her frat brothers are not all villains—in fact, many of them are capable of change. In her debut novel, Roache has created a narrator with a strong, relatable voice as well as a cast of nuanced characters full of pleasant surprises and believable personal growth. However, her prose often slips into the didactic, referencing theory dominated by white feminist icons ranging from Lena Dunham to Andrea Dworkin and Tina Fey. Mentions of the global South disappointingly rely on a victim mentality that oversimplifies women’s struggles there, and her portrayal of working-class families feels condescending. The few characters of color in the book are two-dimensional.

Blind spots around race, culture, and class distract from an otherwise thoughtful, entertaining, and politically relevant coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-373-21234-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body.

MY EYES ARE UP HERE

Greer Walsh wishes she were one person...unfortunately, with her large breasts, she feels like she’s actually three.

High school sophomore and math whiz Greer is self-conscious about her body. Maude and Mavis, as she’s named her large breasts, are causing problems for her. When Greer meets new kid Jackson Oates, she wishes even more that she had a body that she didn’t feel a need to hide underneath XXL T-shirts. While trying to impress Jackson, who has moved to the Chicago suburbs from Cleveland, Greer decides to try out for her school’s volleyball team. When she makes JV, Greer is forced to come to terms with how her body looks and feels in a uniform and in motion as well as with being physically close with her teammates. The story is told in the first person from Greer’s point of view. Inconsistent storytelling as well as Greer’s (somewhat distracting) personified inner butterfly make this realistic novel a slow but overall enjoyable read. The story contains elements of light romance as well as strong female friendships. Greer is white with a Christian mom and Jewish dad; Jackson seems to be white by default, and there is diversity among the secondary characters.

A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1524-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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