FINDING THE FORGER

This second installment in a series of mysteries featuring Bianca Balducci, 15-year-old detective wannabe, has the feisty sophomore involved in tracking down an art thief. The mystery takes second place in this story, providing a support to a plot primarily concerned with humor and relationships. Bianca risks losing boyfriend Doug as she allows jealousy of her best friend Kerrie—who is spending altogether too much time with Doug—to interfere with both relationships. Meanwhile, Bianca meets handsome, sexy, and very British Neville, the son of a wealthy member of the board of the local art museum, where someone has been replacing valuable modern art with forgeries. Sternberg throws in a couple of nice red herrings along with some action sequences that make the story satisfying, but keeps her focus on the kind of humor that should appeal to high-school readers. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-890862-32-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2004

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Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of...

I HAVE NO SECRETS

A nonverbal teen becomes the “real-life password” to solving a terrible crime in this British import.

Sixteen-year-old Jemma has “no secrets of [her] own.” Quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, she can’t move or speak and depends on her foster parents and her aide, Sarah, for everything from eating to using the bathroom. But people often share their secrets with her. After all, Jemma can never tell—even when Sarah’s sleazy boyfriend, Dan, hints at his involvement in a recent murder just before Sarah goes missing. But when innovative technology offers Jemma a chance to communicate, can she expose Dan’s secret before he silences her? Despite its suspenseful premise, the plot pales against Joelson’s (Girl in the Window, 2018) intimate, unflinching exploration of Jemma’s character; the book’s most powerful tension lies in Jemma’s simple, direct narration of her unrecognized, uncomfortably realistic frustrations and fears, such as patronizing adults who “don’t realize that [she has] a functioning brain” and her worry that her overwhelmed parents will stop fostering. Refreshingly, the author’s detailed depiction of augmentative and alternative communication explores both the joy of self-expression and the physical and mental effort it requires. Jemma’s bond with her chaotic but supportive foster family grounds the story, particularly her touching rapport with her younger foster brother, Finn, who’s autistic and also nonverbal. Most characters appear white.

Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of “family.” (Suspense. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9336-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in...

PLAYING FOR KEEPS

Sixteen-year-old Rose Ann, on a Caribbean cruise with her grandmother, becomes involved in the political intrigue surrounding the defection of Enrique, a teenaged Cuban baseball player. His uncle, a well-known major-leaguer who had previously defected from Cuba, has smuggled him on board. Rose discovers the plan and enlists the help of other teenagers to keep Enrique safely under wraps so that he can set foot on American soil. If he’s captured at sea, he must be returned to Cuba. This is no lighthearted romp, for Enrique’s entire future (and possibly his very life) is at stake. Cuban officials attempt to frame him for a murder, so they might arrest him and remove him from the ship. Other murders are committed and must be solved. Sprinkle in parent problems, romance, and a little teen angst and you have a fast-paced, engaging mystery. It is by no means a perfect example of the genre: some of the clues are a little obvious and several of the characters are one-dimensional. Story elements are introduced and then dropped with a thud, violating even the most basic concept of the red herring. However, Rose is a delightful character. She is observant, intelligent, compassionate, and downright plucky. Enrique’s situation is compelling and timely.

Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in spite of its flaws, this one is sure to please her fans. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32759-5

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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