Reminiscent of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Vaughn’s work avoids stereotypical pitfalls and deftly tackles the...

OCD, THE DUDE, AND ME

There are good books, and there are great books, and then there are books with characters you’ll never forget. Vaughn’s debut about a high school senior whose struggle to fit in is compounded by the social quirks associated with her OCD is definitely one of those rare finds.

Told through a brilliant collection of class assignments, journal entries, emails and “missives” to the school psychologist, Danielle Levine’s story is laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly honest. Hopelessly in love with the completely unattainable Jacob Kingston and plagued by body-image issues and insecurities about her position on the senior-class social ladder, Danielle lands herself in the school psychologist’s office and, even worse,  a social-skills class. But just as things look like they couldn’t possibly get any worse, Danielle’s life gradually takes a turn for the better. An oddball collection of new friends, including Daniel, who’s not much taller than she is but has a “personality…well over six feet,” her amazingly supportive Aunt Joyce and Justine, an 80-year-old British tour guide, teach Danielle that there is plenty worth loving, and forgiving, about herself.

Reminiscent of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Vaughn’s work avoids stereotypical pitfalls and deftly tackles the sensitive issue of a teen’s struggle with mental illness with humor and integrity. A must-read. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: March 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3843-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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