An emotional, positive #MeToo story for reluctant readers.

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GIRLS LIKE ME

From the Orca Soundings series

A 16-year-old girl courageously confronts rape culture after being assaulted by a boy she trusted.

Emma and her best friend, Jen, both have a crush on the same boy, popular athlete Ross, but the two girls have a falling out when Ross pays attention to Emma. After offering her a ride home, he rapes her and then tells everyone at school that their sex was consensual—and they believe him. In addition to facing cruel gossip and judgment from her peers, Emma becomes pregnant and suffers a miscarriage. Both the family doctor and her mother let her down, treating her with disapproval and implying that she behaved irresponsibly by having sex without using contraception. Fortunately, the school counselor is unconditionally supportive and informs her of her rights. Emma persists in reaching out to Jen, who is now dating Ross, feeling an obligation to warn her. Emma ultimately also advocates for herself. The fast pace is balanced by informative content about consent, double standards, male allies, and other subjects relevant to teenagers’ lives. Without ever launching into a lecture or infodump, the author skillfully shows rather than tells the toll toxic masculinity takes on teens and their families. Emma’s first-person narration effectively conveys her emotional journey. All characters are assumed white.

An emotional, positive #MeToo story for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2055-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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