DO NOT PASS GO

Deet’s parents are happy-go-lucky and financially irresponsible, so he compensates by being compulsively organized and extremely judgmental. Early on, his dad is working a second job to help pay bills and gets arrested for possessing drugs to help him stay alert. Initially, Deet is utterly mortified and embarrassed. His mother gets a job and Deet realizes he has to go visit his dad in jail, a terrifying prospect. Many visits later, Deet undergoes a transformation. He learns not to be contemptuous of the prisoners—a number of schoolmates have relatives there—and he realizes that the most unexpected people can be the most thoughtful. Hill is an expressive writer who realistically conveys this boy’s journey from superiority to kindness. She renders the criminals as real people, noting that illiteracy is at the root of many objectionable behaviors. Unfortunately, in a story where the whole tenet is not to judge a book by its cover, frequent snide remarks about overweight people seem out of place and cloud the moral. Still, this powerful character study, where everyone in Deet’s family grows, shows that Hill has a gift for quietly but realistically portraying the journey. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2007

ISBN: 1-4169-1400-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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THE ROCK AND THE RIVER

This compelling debut novel set in 1968 Chicago vividly depicts how one African-American family is torn between two opposiing approaches to the Civil Rights Movement. Fourteen-year-old Sam is the son of minister and civil-rights leader Roland Childs, a revered community figure and movement heavyweight whose counsel is sought by Martin Luther King Jr. Sam finds his faith in and respect for his father’s stalwart commitment to nonviolence shaken when he discovers that Stick, his older brother and best friend, is involved with the Black Panthers. Sam is torn between the two people he looks up to most. As he poignantly wrestles over which direction to take, Sam both observes and experiences firsthand the injustice of racism. It takes a terrible tragedy for Sam to choose between “the rock and the river.” Magoon is unflinching in her depictions of police brutality and racism. She offers readers a perspective that is rarely explored, showing that racial prejudices were not confined to the South and that the Civil Rights Movement was a truly national struggle. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7582-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008

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