It’s still chick lit, devoid of parental guidance, but it’s lit that will probably deepen some chicks’ understanding of...

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SOMETIMES IT HAPPENS

A seemingly relentlessly chick-lit novel grows into something deeper as Hannah just can’t get her boyfriends and friendships straight.

The first day of her senior year at high school terrifies Hannah, but readers won’t know why until the book’s flashbacks to the previous summer reveal the reasons for her well-founded fears. Alternating chapters advance both the “first day” and the “summer” stories until they converge in the final emotional scenes. Barnholdt appeals to chick-lit readers with, like, totally believable dialogue between chicks, all the way down to the level of “he goes, then she goes” to describe conversations. Hannah begins the story by learning that her boyfriend has cheated on her and ends with some deceit of her own. The journey between those two events reveals much about contemporary adolescent mores while illuminating Hannah’s character. She overreacts to most problems, greatly concerned with her soon-to-be-demolished reputation. The author reveals Hannah’s best friend Ava’s duplicity, however, through Hannah’s growing realization that Ava often lies. She depicts girls as different and varied, such as Lacey, Hannah’s hypochondriac co-worker and new friend. With the exception of Noah, Hannah’s forbidden love, the various boys in the book, all studly, eventually merge into a blur.

It’s still chick lit, devoid of parental guidance, but it’s lit that will probably deepen some chicks’ understanding of relationships. (Chick lit. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1314-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale.

LEGACY AND THE QUEEN

A 12-year-old girl living in a kingdom ruled by a mysterious queen dreams of attaining her sport’s highest prize.

Legacy Petrin lives and works in the financially strapped orphanage in the provinces run by her father and rises early every day to practice tennis with her old racket. After her best friend, Van, excitedly tells her about a scholarship competition for a spot at an esteemed academy and the opportunity to try out for the national championships, Legacy runs away to the city to compete. After winning, she learns there is still much she doesn’t know: The players are not just proficient in tennis, but also have magical skills that they use to their advantage. Legacy befriends Pippa, a knowledgeable girl from an elite tennis family, and acquires a builder, or coach, Javi. With Pippa and Javi at her side, Legacy makes her way through the competition, despite sabotage attempts, learning secrets about her own family along the way. Legacy is a strong character, and the secondary characters also have interesting backstories. The storyline is reminiscent of other dystopian stories, but centering tennis—with lively descriptions of matches that give a strong sense of the sport—is an unusual touch. Most characters are white, although Javi is brown-skinned, and some other characters of color are mentioned.

Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-03-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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