A penetrating look at the power in the stories we tell ourselves but just a glancing one at the juvenile-justice system.

THE FREE

A Boston-area youth in juvenile detention finds redemption in stories—his and his fellow inmates’.

Car thief Isaac West just has to get through 30 days in juvie, and then he’ll be out and able to protect his beloved little sister from their appalling single mother, an alcoholic prostitute. But he doesn’t bargain on the group-therapy program that has him writing down his “crime story” and then acting it out in a process that combines story critique and reliving his most painful memories. When he’s not in therapy he hangs with the geeks in computer class, mostly so he can email his sister, which is how he almost unwittingly becomes “poems and shit” editor of the inmate newsletter, The Free. McLaughlin creates a correctional facility that’s realistically organized along gang and racial lines, with the exception of the geeks, a multiethnic crew of lovable cons. Actually, all the inmates are lovable in the end, believably victims of circumstance despite their horrifying crimes. These circumstances, despite the constant acknowledgment of race, are largely race-free however, mostly contingent on terrible parenting. Biracial, brown-skinned Isaac himself possesses a physical ambiguity he uses to avoid attention, allowing others to see him as black or Hispanic to avoid conflict. But the only acknowledgment the book makes of institutional racism is Isaac’s dismissive acceptance of an “ ‘essay’…about how racist the criminal justice system is.”

A penetrating look at the power in the stories we tell ourselves but just a glancing one at the juvenile-justice system. (afterword) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61695-731-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

THE NOBLEMAN'S GUIDE TO SCANDAL AND SHIPWRECKS

From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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