An appropriate fantasy for young readers who love spunky heroines and magical settings.

REVENGE

A charming fantasy about two ruling families from a place called Yonder.

Lilyannie, or Lily, goes about her days assuming that she is a normal girl in a normal town. Bored by school, she frequently ditches class to explore or simply get away from her teachers. In an ordinary town she would be considered a truant, but Lily is from Yonder. And while the folk of Yonder encourage their youth to explore their freedom, they are also sternly warned: Do not go into the forest. The mysterious land that lies on the border of Yonder is only for the 20-years-old-plus crowd, but the call of the forbidden territory compels Lily to explore. She attempts to sneak into the forest and is spotted by guards. She assumes that she is captured and resigns, but then a boy, William, appears and leads her to a door, surreally placed in the middle of the forest, that seems to go nowhere special. Lily passes through with William, finding her way through the looking glass. True to genre, the ordinary young girl discovers that she is anything but average. Lily learns from the mysterious William that she has the ability to turn inanimate objects into birds–a trick, despite its supreme oddity as a superpower, that comes in handy. Lily further discovers that the destinies of her family and Yonder are inextricably intertwined. Though William has several revelations for her, it’s the secrets he keeps that compel Lily and the reader onward. There are epic battles with hydras and confrontations with magicians, all the standard fare for lovers of young-adult fantasy, but the world of Yonder doesn’t materialize properly at times, given that the presence of e-mail and telephones doesn’t jibe with the alternate universe of the book. However, Lily is a wonderful character, and Li’s writing is thoughtful and enjoyable. The book’s surprise ending will leave readers reeling–and wanting more.

An appropriate fantasy for young readers who love spunky heroines and magical settings.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4392-1589-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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