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BRIGHT MIDNIGHTS

From the The Limerent Series series , Vol. 2

A page-turning YA novel about a girl who must reconcile her dream-dimensions with the real world.

In Delorme’s YA novel, a young woman encounters love—and danger—in her dreams.

In the second installment in her Limerent series, the author introduces readers to 17-year-old high school student Amelie, who has to deal with the shallow backbiting of the other girls at Mt. Morris School and the creepy feeling she gets from the school’s vice principal, Phillip Sawyer, who not-so-secretly lusts after her. Amelie also has to deal with her own health problems: “There was always something not quite right in her body and it could take multiple forms,” readers are told. “Headache, stomachache, indigestion, nerve pain, tonsilitis, cystitis, colitis ...” To cope with all of this, she tends to retreat into her own thoughts, and into the sprawling wonderland of her nighttime visions and dreams. “Bedtime meant flying inside her head, exploring other worlds and other galaxies”; “It was her bliss time.” This tenuous arrangement with reality is deeply complicated when she meets a teenage boy named Clovis who might be a werewolf, a figment of her imagination, or her first love—or all three. When Clovis introduces her to his world and its possibly inhuman, potentially deadly inhabitants, Amelie feels anxious—and, when it comes to Clovis’ steely friend, Rose, jealous: “If Clovis had a girlfriend—no, a lover—that was his business. It’s not like they were, what—dating.” As Amelie learns more about Clovis and his seemingly supernatural world, she inevitably begins learning more about herself.

Delorme is working here with very familiar YA templates, including the lovely-but-outcast “Girl Who’s the Key to Everything”; “mean girls” high school rivalries and outrages; the presence of a supernatural academy rife with intrigue; coarse or oblivious adults; the cocky, brooding hot boy who’s forever running his hand through his unruly hair; the meet cutes; the arch, old-fashioned settings (“the boy led her to an ornate burgundy Victorian settee”); and the transcendent power of love. Readers of series such as Twilight and Divergent will feel right at home. The author adds imaginative details of her own throughout, from clever allusions to Greek mythology (the code-name Amelie and Clovis work out for her is “Psyche”) to a continuing and sometimes ingenious intertwining of fantasy and science fiction. The central conceit of the novel—stories are actual places where realities can unfold—is effectively shaded by the fact that, when Amelie isn’t living in such alternate realities, she’s learning about them in classes, where unsuspecting teachers ironically tell her that the best authors bring readers into their stories and make readers love their characters. This dual-narrative cleverness, combined with some very simple and sometimes lovely prose (“The sky was blue with puffy white clouds and the air smelled of flowers and sugar”), keeps the reader involved right to the book’s satisfying (albeit predictable) climax. This is solid entertainment for the Court of Thorns and Roses crowd.

A page-turning YA novel about a girl who must reconcile her dream-dimensions with the real world.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9798987488027

Page Count: 307

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2024

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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INDIVISIBLE

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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