CAMILLA

As in her other books, the author has incorporated in her characters a deep concern for matters of the conscience—life and death, God, war, responsibility, love, family relationships. Camilla undergoes a painful process of self reckoning as she approaches maturity from a sheltered youth. She is 15, the age when "...you lose all the privileges of being a child and get none of the privileges of being grown-up," she lives in New York City, and is the only child of wealthy, loving parents. As the book begins she has already begun to break loose from her protected background—instead of having a governess she attends school, where she has become friendly with Luisa, whose life has always been disrupted by her parents' continual fighting; and she realizes that her mother has a lover. Her initial fury at her parents, sparked by her mother's infidelity and attempted suicide and her father's lack of sympathy, develops into compassionate understanding of her pampered mother's need for affection and her father's inability to be demonstrative. Paralleling her break with her parents is Camilla's first love, as she meets Frank, Luisa's brother. Camilla's separate reactions to her parents are honestly described, and poignantly realized, but then made puzzling as she tries to fit them into the scheme of life in her extended discussions with Frank. The introspective passages are lengthy; while they are obviously sincere they seem more author-imposed than true to character, and the relating of personal problems to abstractions does both less than justice. An earnest, not entirely successful effort, but one that merits selection attention.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0374310319

Page Count: 257

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1965

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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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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