A satisfying whodunit with enough clues and red herrings to keep mystery fans happy.

READ REVIEW

THE GIRL IN THE PARK

“If Wendy could, she’d scream her killer’s name so the whole world heard her… But she can’t. Her killer took her voice away. So I have to use mine.”

When shy Rain’s former friend, outgoing Wendy is found strangled to death in a New York City park, at first all Rain can do is grieve and feel regret about their failed friendship. But she soon becomes convinced from classroom gossip about Wendy’s last night that the murderer wasn’t a homeless vagrant but someone she knew. Wendy had a reputation for going after other girls’ boyfriends, and she’d openly announced on Facebook that attached bad boy Nico Phelps would be hers. Did he or his trust-fund girlfriend finally grow tired of her unwelcome advances? Rain is determined to find out, even if it means speaking up, something she rarely does because of a childhood speech impediment. Then a new piece of evidence challenges Rain’s initial conclusions, and she is terrified to discover that the murderer is closer than she imagined. Though Rain’s amateur investigation doesn’t start until the latter part of the novel, and the climax is a bit perfunctory, if gratifying, both Rain and Wendy emerge as fully rounded, flawed characters that teens will recognize and connect with.

A satisfying whodunit with enough clues and red herrings to keep mystery fans happy. (Mystery. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86843-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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