Heartwarming and engaging.

YOU ASKED FOR PERFECT

Ariel has always been a straight-A student, but now it’s senior year.

For this overachiever, that means taking a kajillion AP courses, practicing violin, and making everyone think he’s a perfectionist to whom it all comes easy. But Ariel’s dream of Harvard begins to waver when he fails a calculus quiz. Thankfully, Amir comes to the rescue by agreeing to tutor him. Gay Amir is Pakistani Muslim, and bisexual Ariel comes from an observant Jewish family; the boys have been in the same school for years and their families are friendly, but it is only now that they really notice—and quickly fall for—one another. With AP exams approaching, college applications due, a violin recital and numerous family events looming—not to mention Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—Ariel begins to realize that effortless perfection requires quite a bit of effort after all. As their romance grows, Ariel finds himself unable to keep up with the various elements of his life: the stresses of school, romance, and family. Ultimately, he learns the importance of stepping back, seeking help, and admitting to weakness. Silverman (Girl Out of Water, 2017) writes a coming-of-age novel that will charm readers with its relatable and diverse characters, quirky storyline, and interweaving of faith, queerness, and the everyday lives of seniors navigating the pressures of college applications, grades, and relationships.

Heartwarming and engaging. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5827-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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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

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