INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART

Overachieving Jessa looks forward to her drama class’ trip to Italy until she finds her boyfriend wrapped around a new squeeze in the costume barn. Alas, all of them will be on the trip. Jessa decides to go anyway, armed with 20 envelopes from her best friend. The envelopes contain instructions for activities intended to repair Jessa’s confidence and, perhaps, wreak revenge on the offending ex-boyfriend. However, as time passes and the instructions do nothing but cause more difficulty, Jessa begins to take her own road to recovery, finally focusing more on her own faults than on her boyfriend’s. Culbertson balances the story between teen angst and a nice Italian travelogue, as Jessa begins to find her own way out of her despair. Her characters stand out as individuals, although she saves time by fitting some peripheral characters neatly into stereotypes. The tour director with her frog-on-a-stick signpost adds some local color. The author has a flair for evocative descriptions, with phrases like “the world’s lovely sherbet colors, its gauzy, shifting clouds like wraiths” helping readers to see Italy. As Jessa reads A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, readers may be enticed to try it too. The major strength here is in the literary quality of the writing, although teens may be more interested in the characters’ relationships. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4022-4302-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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