A lyrical but always unsettling, sometimes uncomfortable tale of medical experimentation in the 1960s South.

SUMMER OF NO RAIN

In this YA novel, a multiracial girl finds herself the subject of strange medical experiments in rural Alabama.

It’s the summer of 1968. Heat and drought have dried out the fields around Hyssop, where 12-year-old Margaret Ann Odom lives with her Black Cherokee mother, M’dear. Margaret Ann’s father, though she doesn’t know him, was White. One day, Claire Whitehurst, a White social worker from the just-opened Free Women’s Clinic, offers to enroll Margaret Ann in a program of “preventative medicine.” It involves weekly injections, and though M’dear doesn’t quite understand what they are for, she allows Margaret Ann to begin the treatment. Margaret Ann, for her part, is suspicious: “Why did this White woman think I wasn’t healthy? I thought I was healthy. I hadn’t had my monthlies yet, but I’d heard girls at school talk. Some had. Some hadn’t. ‘This about my monthlies?’ I cut my eyes under my brows to glance at my mother.” Margaret Ann is right to be wary, since none of the other kids in her class have to get the shots, and the clinic is housed in a long-abandoned building. The medicine, whatever it is, causes Margaret Ann to feel depressed, but the truth behind the treatment is even darker than she can imagine. The majority of the book is narrated by Margaret Ann, and Hunter gives her a poet’s eye for the world around her: “I once picked up an old burl out of the cow pasture and took it home. It had circles inside circles inside circles. Interesting how a mistake of nature can make something so beautiful. I understand now that’s my life. You live in the center of circles, each washing away from the other, like ripples in the cattle pond near the ridge.” Some readers may be turned off by the use of dialect and discussions surrounding skin color and hair texture, particularly given that the author is White. But the novel is based on a true story, one that many readers likely have never heard of, and Hunter tells it in a way that highlights the horrors.

A lyrical but always unsettling, sometimes uncomfortable tale of medical experimentation in the 1960s South.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-949711-82-0

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Bluewater Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2021

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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