Fresh, insightful, and rich with history.

ONE LAST SHOT

THE STORY OF WARTIME PHOTOGRAPHER GERDA TARO

A Jewish photojournalist fights fascism in Europe in the 1930s.

Gerda Pohorylle came of age as the Nazi Party rose to power. As a teenager, she became involved with the leftist political movement in Germany, battling the nascent fascism of her country and campaigning for workers’ rights. After a run-in with the Gestapo, she fled to Paris in 1933. There, she found a new community of organizers and radicals and learned the importance of a united movement. Enamored with photography from a young age and finally in possession of the tools to pursue it, she worked with her lover, André Friedmann, to document the anti-fascist movement. The pair chose new professional names: Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Their coverage of the Spanish Civil War brought renown and a new home among like-minded artists, writers, and activists. Wilson shares Pohorylle’s story with stunning efficiency through an economy of language that wrings sweetness from every word. The free-form verse is written in the present tense, each moment of the story its own indelible snapshot. The book captures the subject’s life and the times she lived through with complexity and depth: This is not just a story of the violence of fascism, but of the burning joy of freedom and the exhilaration of shaping, with sweat and blood, a better world. It’s a struggle that continues today, and Wilson skillfully draws connections between past and present.

Fresh, insightful, and rich with history. (dramatis personae, author’s note, selected sources, glossary) (Verse historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-325168-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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An important, well-executed work of historical fiction.

BLUEBIRD

The story of two teenagers at the end of World War II: one raised by Nazis, the other a German immigrant new to the United States.

It’s 1946, and Eva is arriving in America, a refugee from Germany. The narrative then flips to 1945. Sixteen-year-old Inge has been raised a Nazi, her doctor father a prominent figure and integral part of the concentration camps. In the aftermath of the war, Inge realizes the atrocities her father and her people were responsible for and vows to atone for the murdered innocents. These are postwar young women hoping to do right by their complicated pasts, the story alternating between their points of view. While the horrors of the Holocaust are certainly discussed, the brutal realities of postwar Germany and the gray areas between good and evil offer a lesser-seen view of World War II. Cameron slowly, delicately weaves these seemingly disparate stories into one seamless storyline. As the two merge into one, there are twists and turns and plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, even if the pace is a little inconsistent. The grim realities will stay with readers long beyond the book; the truths shared are honest but not gratuitous. All of the main characters are White, though African American artist Augusta Savage plays a minor role, and some background characters are people of color.

An important, well-executed work of historical fiction. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35596-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara’s...

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THE POET X

Poetry helps first-generation Dominican-American teen Xiomara Batista come into her own.

Fifteen-year old Xiomara (“See-oh-MAH-ruh,” as she constantly instructs teachers on the first day of school) is used to standing out: she’s tall with “a little too much body for a young girl.” Street harassed by both boys and grown men and just plain harassed by girls, she copes with her fists. In this novel in verse, Acevedo examines the toxicity of the “strong black woman” trope, highlighting the ways Xiomara’s seeming unbreakability doesn’t allow space for her humanity. The only place Xiomara feels like herself and heard is in her poetry—and later with her love interest, Aman (a Trinidadian immigrant who, refreshingly, is a couple inches shorter than her). At church and at home, she’s stifled by her intensely Catholic mother’s rules and fear of sexuality. Her present-but-absent father and even her brother, Twin (yes, her actual twin), are both emotionally unavailable. Though she finds support in a dedicated teacher, in Aman, and in a poetry club and spoken-word competition, it’s Xiomara herself who finally gathers the resources she needs to solve her problems. The happy ending is not a neat one, making it both realistic and satisfying. Themes as diverse as growing up first-generation American, Latinx culture, sizeism, music, burgeoning sexuality, and the power of the written and spoken word are all explored with nuance.

Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara’s name: “one who is ready for war.” (Verse fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266280-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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