Choppy and an issue book to the core, though certainly effective on the texting-and-driving message.

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THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SISTERS

Nature, photography, sisterhood, and severe consequences for texting while driving.

Sisters Roo, 16, and Tilly, 14, live right where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound. Between Roo’s stunning photographs (of river, beaches, marshes, and people) and her off-the-charts academic test scores, she’s a shoo-in for Yale—until one fateful day. Roo’s late picking up Tilly; Tilly pesters her by text, demanding a response; Roo glances down to reply “5 mins away” and flips her car, ending up paralyzed and in a coma. The sisters alternate first-person narration. Via Roo’s chapters, readers know long before her family and doctors that she’s actually not in a coma—she has locked-in syndrome and can’t move, but she’s fully sentient and as sharp as ever. Themes are plentiful and include guilt and confession; recovery (Roo uses a brain-computer interface to communicate and eventually take photos with her one mobile eye); boyfriends and loyalty; and, of course, the warning about texting while driving. Textual insistences that the sisters are best friends with an unbreakable relationship and that Roo’s the most “special, luminous girl”—both before and after paralysis—are unduly explicit, and Tilly’s voice is sometimes uncharacteristically florid. White characters are white by default, while characters of color are specified, stereotyped, and mainly present to supply support and wisdom.

Choppy and an issue book to the core, though certainly effective on the texting-and-driving message. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-83955-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of...

I HAVE NO SECRETS

A nonverbal teen becomes the “real-life password” to solving a terrible crime in this British import.

Sixteen-year-old Jemma has “no secrets of [her] own.” Quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, she can’t move or speak and depends on her foster parents and her aide, Sarah, for everything from eating to using the bathroom. But people often share their secrets with her. After all, Jemma can never tell—even when Sarah’s sleazy boyfriend, Dan, hints at his involvement in a recent murder just before Sarah goes missing. But when innovative technology offers Jemma a chance to communicate, can she expose Dan’s secret before he silences her? Despite its suspenseful premise, the plot pales against Joelson’s (Girl in the Window, 2018) intimate, unflinching exploration of Jemma’s character; the book’s most powerful tension lies in Jemma’s simple, direct narration of her unrecognized, uncomfortably realistic frustrations and fears, such as patronizing adults who “don’t realize that [she has] a functioning brain” and her worry that her overwhelmed parents will stop fostering. Refreshingly, the author’s detailed depiction of augmentative and alternative communication explores both the joy of self-expression and the physical and mental effort it requires. Jemma’s bond with her chaotic but supportive foster family grounds the story, particularly her touching rapport with her younger foster brother, Finn, who’s autistic and also nonverbal. Most characters appear white.

Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of “family.” (Suspense. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9336-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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