THE MOST DAZZLING GIRL IN BERLIN

Wunderbar!

“I shiver. / How much has changed / in a week.” And we all shivered with her.

Recounting the months before Hitler’s rise to power in 1932, Catholic orphan Hilde, an 18-year-old resident of Berlin, documents her life in a series of free-verse poems. Her story begins as she leaves the orphanage and follows her through a brief period of homelessness and unemployment before she finds the Café Lila, a queer nightclub that ultimately provides employment, security, and a sense of community previously missing from Hilde’s life. It also brings her in contact with gorgeous Rosa, a Jewish performer and waitress with a vivacious attitude who quickly captures Hilde’s heart. Astute readers will understand what horrible fates await many of the characters but will be captivated by the events that Hilde observes, many of which still echo today. Book clubs will find a lot to discuss in Hilde’s story, and educators won’t need to work hard to generate conversations about equality, authoritarianism, and the role of minorities in democracy. The free-form verse is inviting and masterfully captures the mood and times in sparse poetry, making this work equally appealing for pleasure reading. Educators and history buffs will appreciate the thorough and informative backmatter, which includes selected sources in both English and German, a glossary of terms, and an author’s note that provides valuable context and recommends more information about the time period.

Wunderbar! (Verse historical fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-44890-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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LONG WAY DOWN

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Newbery Honor Book

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE

An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss.

It’s 1983, and 13-year-old Indian American Reha feels caught between two worlds.

Monday through Friday, she goes to a school where she stands out for not being White but where she has a weekday best friend, Rachel, and does English projects with potential crush Pete. On the weekends, she’s with her other best friend, Sunita (Sunny for short), at gatherings hosted by her Indian community. Reha feels frustrated that her parents refuse to acknowledge her Americanness and insist on raising her with Indian values and habits. Then, on the night of the middle school dance, her mother is admitted to the hospital, and Reha’s world is split in two again: this time, between hospital and home. Suddenly she must learn not just how to be both Indian and American, but also how to live with her mother’s leukemia diagnosis. The sections dealing with Reha’s immigrant identity rely on oft-told themes about the overprotectiveness of immigrant parents and lack the nuance found in later pages. Reha’s story of her evolving relationships with her parents, however, feels layered and real, and the scenes in which Reha must grapple with the possible loss of a parent are beautifully and sensitively rendered. The sophistication of the text makes it a valuable and thought-provoking read even for those older than the protagonist.

An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss. (Verse novel. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304742-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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