A moving, worldly-wise tale of a teen on a spiritual roller-coaster ride.

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A teenager begins to see visions of the Virgin Mary in this YA Christian novel.

Sixteen-year-old Stevie Albie is living the normal life of an American high school student when that existence is upended quite dramatically. The Virgin Mary suddenly appears to the teen in a vision. “She came to me in what I first thought was a dream, light pulsating around her, muffling her features,” Stevie reflects. “When she smiles…I feel the jolt of recognition in my heart.” This strikes her as surprising since she considers herself very ordinary: “Mediocre is pretty much my middle name.” And yet it’s Mary herself who asks: “Oh, my darling child, don’t you know how special you are?” While Stevie is grappling with a scary cancer diagnosis and visits to hospitals and specialists, she’s also increasingly certain that Mary must be appearing to her for some distinct reason. When word begins to spread, all the usual things start to happen, from the doubting reactions of Stevie’s friends to inquiries from the local press. One response is perhaps equally predictable: A Florida-based religious group calling itself the Church of the Eye approaches her, wanting to make contact with somebody it considers a prophet of God. As Stevie is drawn closer and closer into the workings of the Church of the Eye, her disillusionment runs right alongside the increasing personal comfort she gets from Mary’s visits. Durfee adopts a narrative tone that’s perfectly balanced between YA–style whimsical humor and a sober, deep inquiry into the nature of belief. The tale’s cast of supporting characters is confidently portrayed, and the author’s depiction of Mary is all the more touchingly understated in light of the story’s bittersweet ending. Readers perhaps fondly recalling Diane Schoemperlen’s 2001 novel, Our Lady of the Lost and Found, will find a similar tenor of gentle human understanding running throughout Durfee’s book, which will please Christians and non-Christians alike.

A moving, worldly-wise tale of a teen on a spiritual roller-coaster ride.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949935-21-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Orange Blossom Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2021


Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true.

A gut-wrenching look at how addiction affects a family and a town.

Emory Ward, 16, has long been invisible. Everyone in the town of Mill Haven knows her as the rich girl; her workaholic parents see her as their good child. Then Emory and her 17-year-old brother, Joey, are in a car accident in which a girl dies. Joey wasn’t driving, but he had nearly overdosed on heroin. When Joey returns from rehab, his parents make Emory his keeper and try to corral his addictions with a punitive list of rules. Emory rebels in secret, stealing small items and hooking up with hot neighbor Gage, but her drama class and the friends she gradually begins to be honest with help her reach her own truth. Glasgow, who has personal experience with substance abuse, bases this story on the classic play Our Town but with a twist: The characters learn to see and reach out to each other. The cast members, especially Emory and Joey, are exceptionally well drawn in both their struggles and their joys. Joey’s addiction is horrifying and dark, but it doesn’t define who he is. The portrayal of small-town life and its interconnectedness also rings true. Emory’s family is White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast, and an important adult mentor is gay. Glasgow mentions in her author’s note that over 20 million Americans struggle with substance abuse; she includes resources for teens seeking help.

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70804-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021


A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution.

A teenage girl finds herself alone after everyone else in her town mysteriously disappears, leaving her scrambling to figure out how to find them all.

One late summer day, everybody in July Fielding’s town disappears. She is left to piece together what happened, following a series of cryptic signs she finds around town urging her to “GET THEM BACK.” The narrative moves back and forth between July’s present and the events of the summer before, when her relationship with her best friend, cross-country team co-captain Sydney, starts to fracture due to a combination of jealousy over July’s new relationship with a cute boy called Sam and sweet up-and-coming freshman Ella’s threatening to overtake Syd’s status as star of the track team. The team members participate in a ritual in which they jump off a cliff into the rocky waters below at the end of their Friday practice runs. Though Ella is reluctant, Syd pressures her to jump. Short, frenetically paced sections move the story along quickly, and there is much foreshadowing pointing to something terrible that occurred at the end of that summer, which may be the key to July’s current predicament, but there is much misdirection too. Ultimately this is a story without enough setup to make the turn the book takes in the end feel fully developed or earned. All characters read white.

A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593327173

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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