A bright but most unlikely caper, set in Boston's Public Gardens where Enid, 14, babysits overprotected little Joshua Cameron. (On their first day out she starts to "love" him.) In the Gardens—where Enid, who hates her real name, becomes Cynthia, and Joshua becomes Tom Terrific—the two meet tall, black Hawk, in his 30s or 40s, who plays the saxophone, and an old bag lady who mumbles that the popsicle man no longer carries her favorite flavor, root beer: ". . . they never asked anybody, really, they just decided that about root beer without consulting anyone, they always do that. . . ." Well, Enid/Cynthia gets the idea that all the bag ladies should picket the popsicle man. Hawk organizes the ladies, and the event is a success. . . which only spurs Enid on to a grander scheme: taking the bag ladies on a midnight ride in a Swan Boat. ("There are 24 seats on each Swan Boat. I pictured 24 bag ladies, erect as royalty, their eyes bright. . . .") Hawk, implausibly, goes along with the scheme; Enid's friend Seth Sandroff (dubbed General Sethsandroff for the occasion) shows up with a bolt cutter for the Swan Boats' cable; Enid brings "Tom," who's in her care that Saturday night (he's always wanted to ride in a Swan Boat); and then the bag ladies appear: "Coming now from behind the bushes, statues, and trees," they gather on the dock "like a congregation standing in a dim cathedral." On the boat, they all sing "Stardust" to Hawk's sax; and when the song ends they are all arrested (without serious consequence, however). From the subsequent newspaper writeups, Enid learns that Hawk is Wilson B. Hartley, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Harvard; Tom Terrific is heir to a fortune; and "their" bag lady is Julia Simpson Forbes, a millionaire's widow and resident of the Ritz. (The others are real bag ladies.) Lowry writes with verve and awareness, and she makes it clear that this is not to be taken for realism: "There was something about the whole enterprise that was like a fantasy, and that made the fake names seem okay." The trouble is that the fantasy comes off as a silly, sentimental-liberal pipedream that trivializes the realities she wants to transcend.

Pub Date: April 27, 1983

ISBN: 0395340705

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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