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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Stronger books may exist about the 1960s, but female friendship tales never go out of style.

BAD GIRLS NEVER SAY DIE

For “bad girls,” hell can be a place on Earth.

In Houston in the early ’60s, girls only seem to have two choices: be a good girl and get married or be a bad girl and live your life. Fifteen-year-old Evie, from a working-class White family, became a bad girl after her sister’s shotgun wedding took her away from home. Mexican American neighbor Juanita, who smokes, drinks, wears intense eye makeup, and runs with the tough crowd, takes Evie under her wing, but despite the loyalty of this new sisterhood, Evie often feels uncertain of her place. When a rich girl from the wealthy part of town named Diane saves Evie from assault by killing the attacker, Evie finds a new friend and, through that friendship, discovers her own courage. This work borrows a few recognizable beats from S.E. Hinton’s 1967 classic, The Outsiders—class tensions, friendship, death, and a first-person narrative that frequently employs the word tuff—but with a gender-swapped spin. Overall, the novel would have benefited from a stronger evocation of the setting. During an era of societal upheaval, Evie struggles to reconcile her frustration at the limited roles defined for her and her friends, with many moments of understanding and reflection that will resonate with modern readers’ sensibilities—although sadly she still victim blames herself for the attempted assault.

Stronger books may exist about the 1960s, but female friendship tales never go out of style. (author's note, resources) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23258-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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