The multilingual text will be a stumbling block for many readers, but it’s a vivid portrait of a culture, with particular...

ANGEL DE LA LUNA AND THE 5TH GLORIOUS MYSTERY

Adolescence, family issues, music and revolutionary politics all sink sharp hooks into a Filipino teenager at the beginning of the 21st century.

Related with a rich mixture of English, “Taglish” and Tagalog dialogue, Angel’s tale begins with the sudden loss of her Papang (father) and the ensuing departure of her Ináy (mother) for America. Switching time and locale halfway through, Angel flies from Manila to Chicago two years later, just before her 16th birthday, only to discover that she has a new stepfather and baby brother. In a narrative rush propelled by grief and anger, Angel chronicles hard times struggling to support herself, her little sister, Lila, and her grandmother Lola Ani while attending a convent school run by activist nuns who lead politicized students out in demonstrations against the Estrada regime. In Chicago, she conducts a cold war at home while facing culture shock and sparking a student walkout at her new school. In both countries, Angel is deeply embedded in webs of close-knit community and extended family. References to then-current politics mix with explicit, shocking testimonials from elders who were brutally used as “Comfort Women” by Japanese soldiers in World War II. Along with these, Galang folds Filipino food, dress, sights and customs into her narrative. As a result, and particularly because the meanings of the non-English lines and expressions are not always clear in context, events and characters are often outshone by their milieu.

The multilingual text will be a stumbling block for many readers, but it’s a vivid portrait of a culture, with particular focus on its women. (afterword, study questions) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56689-333-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Coffee House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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A standing ovation.

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CLAP WHEN YOU LAND

Tackles family secrets, toxic masculinity, and socio-economic differences with incisive clarity and candor.

Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and yearns to go to Columbia University in New York City, where her father works most of the year. Yahaira Rios, who lives in Morningside Heights, hasn’t spoken to her dad since the previous summer, when she found out he has another wife in the Dominican Republic. Their lives collide when this man, their dad, dies in an airplane crash with hundreds of other passengers heading to the island. Each protagonist grieves the tragic death of their larger-than-life father and tries to unravel the tangled web of lies he kept secret for almost 20 years. The author pays reverent tribute to the lives lost in a similar crash in 2001. The half sisters are vastly different—Yahaira is dark skinned, a chess champion who has a girlfriend; Camino is lighter skinned, a talented swimmer who helps her curandera aunt deliver neighborhood babies. Despite their differences, they slowly forge a tenuous bond. The book is told in alternating chapters with headings counting how many days have passed since the fateful event. Acevedo balances the two perspectives with ease, contrasting the girls’ environments and upbringings. Camino’s verses read like poetic prose, flowing and straightforward. Yahaira’s sections have more breaks and urgent, staccato beats. Every line is laced with betrayal and longing as the teens struggle with loving someone despite his imperfections.

A standing ovation. (Verse novel. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288276-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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