Brings awareness with sensitivity and grace to a rare, always fatal disease.

BEHIND THESE HANDS

When devastating news hits, a 14-year-old piano prodigy questions her place in her family and the world in this novel in verse.

Claire Fairchild was born to make music and has been preparing for an elite competition that could have a tremendous impact on her future. When both of her little brothers, Trent, 6, and Davy, 7, are diagnosed with Batten disease, a rare, incurable illness that leads to physical and mental deterioration and then death, Claire’s carefully outlined world collapses: “Batten has rearranged our family / like pieces of familiar furniture / placed awkwardly in a new setting.” Music is no longer important: “I don’t feel the music in me at all. / It feels dead.” She feels “dirty inside” for worrying about the impact this news has on her competition prep. How can she continue to make music when her brothers are dying? With the support of her friends, Juan and Mia, Claire finds hope—not that her brothers will live, but that she can use her music to celebrate their lives, no matter how brief. Free verse evokes the myriad emotions brought up by the story’s numerous well-balanced themes. The result is a richly woven, unforgettable symphony of feelings and words. Claire and her family are white, as is Mia; Juan is Cuban.

Brings awareness with sensitivity and grace to a rare, always fatal disease. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61153-259-3

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Light Messages

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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