SAYING GOODBYE

In a sequel to Finding My Voice, 1992, Lee subjugates story to issues: the tragic conflicts generated by racial prejudice and striving for racial solidarity and identity. Like older sister Michelle, Ellen (Myong-Ok, as her well-to-do Korean-born parents call her), is now a Harvard premed. New close friend and roommate Leecia assumes that Ellen will be as concerned with her Korean heritage as Leecia is with her African-American roots, but Ellen is more interested in studying creative writing with an eminent professor/author. Still, she takes up extracurricular tae kwon do and meets classmate Jae, who teaches her Korean and confides that his parents' grocery was destroyed in the L.A. riots. Eventually, newly sensitized by this and other events—and despite her real understanding of Leecia's point of view—Ellen plays a pivotal role in a demonstration against a virulently racist, anti-Korean rap musician whose appearance Leecia has arranged. The girls' friendship is virtually destroyed, though there's a partial reconciliation at the end. In essence, though lightly disguised as fiction, this is an essay on racism in all its diversity, if less than its full complexity. It's also a plausible (if overdetailed) picture of life on campus, with idealized but likable characters and lively dialogue that's a tad too accessible to be realistic (these kids sound more like high school students than Harvard undergrads). Still, a thoughtful, unsimplistic message in a form many YAs will find enjoyable. (Fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-395-67066-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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