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


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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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 deeply satisfying dive into magic and mystery.


From the Of Mermaids and Orisa series , Vol. 2

To save the world from a vengeful god, Simidele gave up her freedom as Mami Wata to serve the orisa Olokun.

She didn’t count on Olokun’s not following through on their deal to catch and then release Esu, the trickster god who tried to take over the world; Olokun’s actions bring forward an ocean of problems for everyone, including those Simi tried to save. Without Esu working to bind them, the demon warlord ajogun are tearing at the barrier that blocks them from wreaking havoc. It’s not enough that the orisa must fight the inhumanity of chattel slavery, but now the mermaids Yemoja created to return stolen souls to their creator must leave the water to stop the fighting among kingdoms determined to control or resist the ajogun. To do this, Simi must reunite with people she hoped never to see again: With their return to her life comes the possibility of redemption and love. In this series in which West African gods, goddesses, and mystical creatures fight, thrive, trick, transform, and love, Bowen emphasizes the power of found family and collective organizing. The beginning seamlessly integrates readers into the cast members’ struggles, each of them sitting at different intersections of status and magical abilities. By introducing new conflicts among the kingdoms instead of solely focusing on slave traders as antagonists, Bowen tugs at the histories we know and the ones we must fabulate to fill in the spaces.

A deeply satisfying dive into magic and mystery. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12098-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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