Inspired by a classic, this story is best suited for those eager to revisit romance in the context of Little Women.

JO & LAURIE

Josephine “Jo” March struggles to manage her emotions, write a sequel to her successful novel, and support her poor family financially.

Her editor and readers desire a story of love and marriage, which 18-year-old Jo rejects. Jo refuses marriage for herself and rebuffs the affections of her charming, wealthy, longtime friend Laurie in this spinoff of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women that takes place in 1869, between the publication of the two parts of the original novel. The meticulously imitated historical language includes the perhaps overused exclamation “Christopher Columbus!” Scenes from the classic are reimagined or referred to in ways that alternately stir feelings of nostalgia, confusion, and disappointment over the absence of the rich, nuanced character development found in the original. Readers might also struggle to believe certain plot points, such as the beloved March father's choosing to be an absentee dad or younger sister Amy's falling ill in a manner oddly similar to Beth in the classic. Those who want to believe Jo’s defiance of societal norms might be puzzled by the extent to which she and other members of the “gentle sex” quickly blush in the company of men and are susceptible to jealousy. While some might appreciate this new interpretation, fans of the classic may prefer to stick to their own imaginings. Main characters are white.

Inspired by a classic, this story is best suited for those eager to revisit romance in the context of Little Women. (historical note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1201-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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