By tale’s end, it is evident that this humorous, spirited teen is poised to triumph over the challenges of adolescence.

CAN YOU SAY CATASTROPHE?

From the Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair series , Vol. 1

Irked by her parents, annoyed by her younger siblings and bewildered by the recent behavior of Billy, one of her best friends, April’s teen years are off to an inauspicious start.

In journal-style entries, April contemplates the ups and downs of her life, beginning with her momentous—and monumentally embarrassing—13th birthday. Drama abounds as April comically details her most cringe-worthy, mortifying moments. With a suddenly tumultuous love life and mischievous younger sisters who constantly invade her privacy and reveal her secrets, April is eagerly anticipating summer camp. However, in response to her less-than-satisfactory attitude, her parents have completely revised April’s summer agenda. Rather than attending camp with her BFFs, April embarks upon a family vacation featuring a ramshackle RV, camping and compulsory family time. In this first title of her new series, Friedman delves into a plethora of teen concerns as April copes with body-image worries, friendships, family relationships and first kisses. She consummately conveys April’s self-absorption, adeptly capturing the turmoil of the shifting stages between childhood and adolescence. While April’s narration can be somewhat sarcastic, the overall tone is more cleverly sassy than harsh. However, as the summer progresses, April’s maturity grows perceptibly. When a near disaster occurs during their family trip, it serves as a revelation for April, affirming the importance of family.

By tale’s end, it is evident that this humorous, spirited teen is poised to triumph over the challenges of adolescence. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0925-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end.

THE RUNAWAY'S DIARY

A teenager runs away to Seattle, hoping to locate her missing sister.

Fifteen-year-old Eleanor idolizes her older sister, Sam, despite their being complete opposites: Sam is outgoing and wild, while socially awkward Eleanor is known as Little Miss Perfect, always doing the right and safe thing. After Sam runs away from home, the only communication she has with Eleanor are three postcards sent from Seattle. Eleanor decides to trace her 18-year-old sister’s footsteps, leaving her messages and hopping on a bus to find her. But when Sam doesn’t meet her at the bus depot, Eleanor, who has no real plan, has to learn how to survive on her own while searching the city for her sister. While the close bond between the girls is well depicted through flashbacks, the reveal of an important secret ultimately feels anticlimactic. A major plot point relies too heavily on chance and coincidence to be fully believable. While the color scheme, cityscapes, and background illustrations are atmospheric, the manga-inspired drawing style comes across as dated and flat. The depiction of the fabricated stories Eleanor tells is intriguing, as are the themes of friendship, living in the moment, and maintaining hope; unfortunately, none are thematically strong enough to resonate. The emotional impact of Eleanor’s experiences is diluted by her at times humorous narration. Eleanor and the main cast read as White.

A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end. (Graphic novel. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-50023-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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