LIKE MANDARIN

Mandarin Ramey is the girl everyone wants to be or be with. Everyone in the tiny town of Washokey, Wyo., is obsessed with Mandarin, but no one as much as Grace. At 14, Grace is bookish and awkward, the exact opposite of the wild and carefree Mandarin. When they are paired to complete a school project, it is a dream come true for Grace. Mandarin helps Grace find freedom, encouraging her to dance in the blizzard of cotton falling from the trees, skinny-dip in the canal and liberate the animal trophies decorating the grocery store. As Grace begins to emulate Mandarin’s dress, attitude and wild ways, she must also confront the darker side of her new friend. Mandarin’s life is steeped in fear, liquor and a large helping of lies. Grace forgives Mandarin at every turn, but a final betrayal proves nearly impossible to get past. The sparse landscape is the perfect backdrop for the richly detailed characters that populate this coming-of-age story. Grace’s escalating relationship with Mandarin is so raw that it is painful to watch at times. Unfortunately, Grace’s character is often overshadowed by the much more provocative and interesting Mandarin, making this more Mandarin’s story than Grace’s. An attempt to present Grace’s take-away lesson at the end feels artificial. This is a good story that would have been better with a change of focus. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73935-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more