A thought-provoking exploration of a teen’s evolving ideals.

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LAUREN YANOFSKY HATES THE HOLOCAUST

A Jewish teen who has decided to become “un-Jewish” experiences a soul-searching junior year.

Lauren found herself with a newly formed nonreligious identity after questioning her Jewish education, her father’s profession as a Holocaust historian and her discomfort with Judaism’s commemoration of centuries-old persecution. After eight years of Jewish day school, Lauren convinced her parents to let her attend public high school, where she has strengthened friendships with some of the gentile kids from her neighborhood. But these kids are changing too, and some of their new interests (Bible study group and the smokers’ crowd) leave Lauren lost in a teen world in which she is unwilling to participate. When she comes across a group of her male peers playing war games as Nazis, Lauren’s discomfort with her own reaction creates powerful psychological turmoil, which is complicated when she dates one of the boys. Lauren’s Judaic background includes her grandmother’s Holocaust past, in which 11 family members perished. Lieberman, known for her edgy, provocative Jewish-themed novels, Book of Trees (2010) and Gravity (2008), creates another strong female protagonist, whose characterization of Judaism as a religion “about loss, grief and persecution” will raise eyebrows with both Jewish and non-Jewish readers.

A thought-provoking exploration of a teen’s evolving ideals. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0109-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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A probably harmless, entirely forgettable series opener.

THE SELECTION

From the Selection series , Vol. 1

It's a bad sign when you can figure out the elevator pitch for a novel from the get-go.

In this case, if it wasn't "The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games," it was pretty darn close. In a rigid, caste-based dystopian future, Illéa’s Prince Maxon has come of age and needs to marry. One girl will be chosen by lottery from each province to travel to the Capital and live in the palace so the prince can make his choice. The winning girl will become queen, and her family will all be elevated to Ones. America, a Five, doesn't want to join the Selection because she is in love with Aspen, a Six. But pressure from both her family and Aspen causes her to relent, and the rest is entirely predictable. She's chosen, she goes to the palace, she draws the ire of the other girls with her beauty and the interest of the prince with her spunky independence. Prince Maxon is much nicer than she expected, but she will remain loyal to Aspen. Maybe. Shabby worldbuilding complements the formulaic plot. Scant explanation is made for the ructions that have created the current political reality, and the palace is laughably vulnerable to rebels from both the North and the South, neither of whom are given any credible motives. But there's lots of descriptions of dresses.

A probably harmless, entirely forgettable series opener. (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-205993-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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