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THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ

Not only is Margot experiencing an identity crisis, the book is too.

A Puerto Rican teenager spends the summer working in her father’s South Bronx supermarket, where she experiences myriad unfortunate developments.

Margot Sanchez is being punished for stealing her father’s credit card by working at Sanchez & Son’s Supermarket. Accustomed to the whitewashed scenery of Somerset Prep, the brown-skinned teen now has to put up with her older, violent brother who lost his wrestling scholarship and got kicked out of school. Margot's machista dad oversees the store, while her submissive mother stays at home. With secondary and tertiary characters aplenty, turbulent relationships abound at the workplace, among friends and family, and threaten a gentrifying neighborhood. As seen through narrator Margot’s eyes, the characters are often unapologetically, stereotypically flawed: the men are macho or players; the rich, white youth are privileged and usually ignorant; the Latinas are mostly sassy and full of attitude, but at other times they are submissive. In this coming-of-age novel, Rivera touches on countless problems: trust issues, family grief and disappointment, domestic violence, verbal abuse, socio-economic woes, love affairs, a neighborhood undergoing gentrification. Rather than delving into these issues, readers are flung from one plot point to the next, as if running through a checklist of conflicts: drunken sex, drugs, violence, theft, lies. Unitalicized Spanish and Puerto Rican colloquialisms are generously woven into the text, as are slurs in both English and Spanish.

Not only is Margot experiencing an identity crisis, the book is too. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7211-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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