A promising debut featuring a crackerjack heroine who doesn’t need a hero to complete her sweet, rambling quest.

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How (Not) To Fall in Love

In Roberts’ debut YA riches-to-rags story, the daughter of a self-help guru searches for her lost father and finds herself.

Darcy Covington discovers who her true friends are when her Audi is towed from her private school’s parking lot. While most of her classmates gawk from the sidelines, only her best friend, Sal, comes to her aid. Darcy’s father’s self-help business is going bankrupt, and he’s gone missing. Her only clues to his whereabouts are the cryptic postcards he sends from the road (“I’m still looking. Not sure when I’ll find it. But I love you. –Dad”). Now his business partner, J.J., is threatening to seize the family’s home if they can’t come up with the money to buy it from the company. The fallout from the scandal unfolds in media sound bites—including a David Letterman–style top-10 list that doesn’t quite land—but Darcy’s observations about her plight are astute: “The sleek, spiky silver chandelier made me think of knife blades poised above us while we ate, but Mom bought it during a European shopping spree, so we were stuck with it.” While her mother drinks herself into oblivion, Darcy takes refuge in her estranged Uncle Charlie’s thrift shop. As she warms up to Charlie, she sees how her hippie uncle and her overachieving father are opposite sides of the same coin: Charlie applies his brother’s wisdom by being kind to his customers, who tell stories in exchange for doughnuts. Not since Uncle Leo in Barthe DeClements’ Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You (1985) has an uncle made such an impact. Darcy also sees glimpses of her future self in Charlie’s friend Liz, who runs a cozy (and chaotic) coffee shop nearby. When Darcy meets Charlie’s trusted employee, Lucas, she’s immediately smitten. Ultimately, though, her personal transformation is more compelling than her crush: her confidence grows as she admirably takes over the household duties, from baking casseroles to coordinating her family’s estate sale. Lucas, though unfailingly chivalrous, is left behind when Darcy finds another clue in the Stonehenge replica she created with her father—a wonderful narrative detail—and goes on a rescue mission to bring him home.

A promising debut featuring a crackerjack heroine who doesn’t need a hero to complete her sweet, rambling quest.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1622665204

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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