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THE RADIUS OF US

A rushed ending is only a small distraction in this otherwise eye-opening story.

As in Dream Things True (2015), Marquardt explores the American dream, this time through the lenses of two traumatized teens.

Gretchen, who’s white, should be reveling in the moment as a high school senior. Instead, she’s home-schooled since being robbed and assaulted in her Atlanta neighborhood has left her with debilitating panic attacks. In a nearby community, 18-year-old brown-skinned Phoenix, who escaped and rescued his younger brother, Ari, from gang violence in El Salvador, is staying with a compassionate lesbian couple while he awaits his day in court as an asylum seeker. Phoenix learned impeccable English from missionaries who established a bilingual school in his village, so he’s able to communicate with Gretchen when they accidentally meet. Told in the teens’ alternating voices, the enlightening story follows their growing relationship as they learn the traumatic experiences each has faced and help each other cope with them. The focus, however, is on Phoenix and Ari’s grisly escape, witnessing acts that have left Ari mute in a juvenile detention facility, and their need to avoid returning to certain death in El Salvador. While the teens’ relationship is tested when details from Phoenix’s past coincide with Gretchen’s case, a host of diverse characters lend a hand and offer varying perspectives.

A rushed ending is only a small distraction in this otherwise eye-opening story. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09689-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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