Teens with a little patience will be drawn into Mike’s struggle to keep going after death has changed everything.

READ REVIEW

THE DEEPEST BLUE

The only thing worse than having your father die unexpectedly is having your mother claim custody of you, or so it feels to Mike.

Michael, almost 16, lives happily with his divorced father in a coastal North Carolina town, running a successful charter fishing business and sharing an easy give-and-take as they work side by side. Mike is pleased when Dad announces his plan to marry longtime girlfriend Maggie. But on the way back from buying a ring, Dad is killed by a drunk driver, and suddenly, Mike finds himself dealing with profound grief, the agonizing steps of planning a funeral and the terrifying prospect that his long-estranged mother might try to take him away from Maggie. Justesen hits the emotional points perfectly, using first-person narration to reveal Mike’s impressive powers of observation and his puzzlement over his own unfamiliar behavior. The novel takes place over the course of about a week, from ring to accident to custody hearing, with solemn pacing and little action until the gripping courtroom scenes. (The cartoonish depictions of Mike’s mentally ill mother and her sweaty lawyer are the book’s weak spots.) A scene in which Mike gets naked (but doesn’t have sex) with his girlfriend is touching rather than spicy.

Teens with a little patience will be drawn into Mike’s struggle to keep going after death has changed everything. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-933718-90-3

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A keenly crafted thriller.

TIME BOMB

When a suburban high school is devastated by a bombing, a diverse group of teens gathers to find a way out.

Minor connections pre-exist among the group: biracial (black/white) Tad is on the football team with the popular Frankie, a white boy, and the pair may be a little more than just friends. Latino Z has been pegged as the class ne’er-do-well; Palestinian-American Rashid, an observant Muslim, feels extra conspicuous now that his beard has started growing. Of course, everyone knows the white daughter of a U.S. senator, the perfectly popular Diana. The wildcard is olive-skinned Cassandra, the new kid in school. When word reaches the gang that the bomber may still be inside the building, tensions rise and the small bonds just being forged threaten to disintegrate. The third-person perspective shifts chapter to chapter, letting readers into each of the character’s heads. Some of the characters are fuller than others (Z is frustratingly thin), but through their eyes the author lays out the geography of the school before the bombing and smartly paces the aftermath. Charbonneau makes the bold move of letting readers—though not all the characters—know who the bomber is right away. This pivots the suspense from a whodunit to a survival tale, and the author effectively charts the action, taking time to allow the kids to discuss current events and the perils of false assumptions.

A keenly crafted thriller. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-41670-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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