The Austins, well-met once, have become increasingly cloying in succeeding books, and Miss L'Engle's philosophic concerns, which gave urgency to A Wrinkle in Time, have begun to seem pretentious, their expression sententious. The Young Unicorns is a kind of aggiornamento of the Austin series and The Arm of the Starfish—via cross-references and a congeries of characters—and Wrinkle. . . the latter because seven-year-old Rob Austin speaks with the same precocious wisdom as Charles Wallace and, in the clinch, withstands evil with the same indomitable innocence: the roles are interchangeable. Coequal with the Austins, who've moved to Manhattan, are two youngsters whom they've absorbed, twelve-year-old Emily, a piano prodigy mysteriously blinded, and Dave, an older misfit who used to run with the Alphabets gang. Dad seems disturbed about his work on a microray instrument; the children are frightened by the materialization of a genie when they rub an antique lamp, by stalking Alphabets everywhere. The plot is labyrinthine, and much of the exposition is borne by the dialogue. It seems that Dad's boss, Dr. Hyde, is plotting with the Bishop of the focal-point Cathedral to take over the city by manipulating the minds of the Alphabets with the microray and he needs a key equation from Dad. . . only it isn't the Bishop, it's his actor-brother who impersonated him after his death. Miss L'Engle envelops these melodramatics in church music and theological speculations; she also writes with an insinuating slickness: the insupportable is readable.

Pub Date: May 15, 1968

ISBN: 0312379331

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1968

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.


Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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