WHITE HEAT

Plot advancement defers to character development in this sequel set during the 13th-century Albigensian crusade. Raimon the weaver’s son, rescued from the heretics’ pyre, retreats with other desperate refugees as his true love Yolanda is carried off to Paris, betrothed to another. Much to-ing and fro-ing ensues as Yolanda tries to escape, and Raimon battles attempts to claim the holy Blue Flame for either the Catholic or Cathar side. In the end, both lose everything that they thought most important but are filled with a renewed commitment to Occitanian independence and to each other. While competently crafted, this trilogy lacks any special merit to stand out amid the current glut of Cathar fiction. It wears its research lightly, relying upon well-chosen details to convey the flavor of medieval life. The antagonists are given complex and sympathetic portrayals, while the heroes struggle as much with their own flaws as with the forces opposing them. Alas, this volume continues the twee conceit of making the land itself the narrator and forces several unlikely coincidences to move the story along. Purchase where the first volume is popular. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9695-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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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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