An unsettling rumination on the spectacle of tragedy.

LIFE IN A FISHBOWL

The members of a white, all-American family become the reluctant subjects of a reality TV show recording father Jared Stone's rapid decline from a brain tumor.

Disoriented after receiving the news that he has an inoperable high-grade glioblastoma multiforme in his brain, Jared concocts a desperate plan to ensure the financial stability of his family after his death. He auctions his life on eBay to the highest bidders to do with him what they please, forgetting, in his tumor-addled confusion, to consult his family about his plans. What follows is a tragicomic romp through Jared's last months, related through the perspectives of the figures who have a vested interest in his life, from his family to the bidders (a motley assortment including a Catholic nun, a callous television executive, and a teenage gamer) to Jared's tumor itself, anthropomorphized and nicknamed Glio. The resulting reality show aggressively impinges on the privacy and dignity of the Stone family, as Glio gleefully consumes Jared's most cherished memories. Amid the chaos, Jared's quiet older daughter Jackie finds the courage to fight back by staging a behind-the-scenes show of her own. Vlahos' deadpan third-person narration amuses, but it also distances readers from the characters' emotional lives. Ironically, it is Glio who shines through most vividly as he tragically devours Jared's world.

An unsettling rumination on the spectacle of tragedy. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-035-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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ANNA K AWAY

From the Anna K series , Vol. 2

A tale of love and loss that spans the globe.

Instead of having a carefree summer, biracial (Korean/White) Anna is sent away from the familiarity of New York, her friends, the past school year’s scandal—and the memories of her dead boyfriend, Alexia Vronsky. While struggling with grief, her shattered self-image, and an uncertain future, Anna attempts to reclaim her summer in Seoul, where she knows only her father and grandmother. Beatrice, Alexia’s cousin, juggles her clingy girlfriend and falling for a California surfer even as she represses her grief. Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, plans for an amazing summer party, although Lolly, his girlfriend, is away at theater camp. Steven’s best friend, Dustin, and Kimmie, Lolly’s younger sister, are equally nervous about their first sexual experience together. This sequel to Anna K (2020) contains fewer mentions of luxury brands, and the characters exhibit an increased awareness of the impacts of wealth and socio-economic status. The novel also touches on issues of addiction, sexism, cultural differences, fame, relationships, love, and mental health; in particular, the portrayals of living with grief and redefining the self after a loved one dies shine. Despite some awkward time skips, the humor, pop-culture references, and characters’ distinct voices strengthen the story. Fans of the first novel will enjoy this follow-up, which is also accessible to readers new to Anna and her world. Some major characters are White; Dustin is Black and Jewish, and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Entertaining. (cast of characters) (Fiction. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-23646-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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