Definitely worth exploring for those completely new to gender fluidity or anxiety issues in teens, as it makes a good...

READ REVIEW

IDENTIFY

A pair of teens under stress finds comfort in each other.

Ethan suffers from anxiety and self-medicates with downers. After he tries a day sober, a panic attack causes him to flee school and hide, when he’s spotted by Gabe, a girl with short hair, who calms him down and fends off bullies who spotted them. Over a few days, Ethan and Gabe form a friendship as readers learn that Ethan’s parents fight constantly, leaving Ethan feeling panicked and isolated, and Gabe’s having a sort of gender issue that’s getting her bullied to the point of deleting her social media and pressured by her parents to conform to girlhood. Some insight comes with the revelation of events, but the depth of the characterizations suffers from the novel’s brevity. With so little information about Gabe’s gender issues, it’s hard to imagine why she’d be bullied so relentlessly for her short hair and “masculine” clothes when she hasn’t explored, let alone declared, any gender changes or fluidity. There is a greater peril introduced by a stalker/bully, but it doesn’t quite land for suspense. Choyce is conscientious in dealing with gender and anxiety, but with so little time spent with Ethan and Gabe, this pretty good novella can’t be a really great novel. Racial cues are entirely absent.

Definitely worth exploring for those completely new to gender fluidity or anxiety issues in teens, as it makes a good primer, but not a deep, character-driven read. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1406-6

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more