A fun and uplifting story that celebrates female friendship and empowerment. (Fiction. 12-18)

SCREEN QUEENS

Three smart and tech-savvy teenage girls are teamed up at ValleyStart, the country’s most prestigious high school tech incubator competition.

The prize is an internship with Pulse, the ultimate app that calculates each user’s level of influence across social media platforms. Palo Alto native Lucy Katz, a determined young socialite in the top percentile of her class, plans to elevate her unimpressive Pulse level and get into Stanford University with a win at ValleyStart. Maddie Li, a gifted graphic designer from Cambridge, Massachusetts, could care less about her Pulse score and is only at ValleyStart to build her portfolio. Shy Delia Meyer, a self-taught coder from Littlewood, Illinois, hopes that a Pulse internship will lead to a job that will not require an expensive college education. Upon their first meeting, the three feel incompatible. But the chance to become the first all-female team to win at ValleyStart raises the stakes, encouraging them to prove themselves in a male-dominated field and pave the way for other young women engineers. Predictably, all three fit a specific archetype—Lucy, the fearless leader; Maddie, the tough chick; Delia, the quiet X factor. But their teamwork and appreciation toward women entrepreneurs who came before them make this a welcome addition to the literature. Lucy is white and Jewish, Delia is white, and Maddie is half Irish/half Chinese.

A fun and uplifting story that celebrates female friendship and empowerment. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-4514-8159-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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