Tamaki’s (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up With Me, 2019, etc.) version of Harley operates with a moral compass while still being bubbly and outgoing.

Harley has been sent to live with her grandmother in Gotham City. She discovers her grandmother has died, but apartment manager Mama, a white, gay man who also manages the local drag queen bar, lets her stay. Harley finds her place among a colorful “mutiny of queens” and makes a new best friend, Ivy Du-Barry. Ivy, who is biracial (Chinese and black), carries the bulk of the load when it comes to educating Harley, who is white, about intersectionality, representation in media, and the gentrification of their neighborhood. Harley’s happiness doesn’t last—Mama receives news of an impending eviction and crosses paths with the Joker. Through flashbacks, shaded in orange, readers get a deeper understanding of what motivates her to fight for what she loves. Pugh (Supergirl, Vol. 3: Girl of No Tomorrow, 2018, etc.) uses a mostly gray and black color palette with background bursts of scarlet. When characters are truly in their element, their signature colors are used: a red and black scheme for Harley, shades of green for Ivy, and the Joker’s signature purple. The fast-paced plot enhanced by Harley's trademark style of speech examines the impact of gentrification, and Harley’s character development follows a redemptive arc that will have readers rooting for her and her colorful family.

A riotous read. (Graphic novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-4012-8329-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: DC Ink

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An insightful tale of persecution and survival.


In Scott’s debut YA novel, a young girl tries to heal her father and avoid being harmed by supernatural forces persecuting members of her culture.

Alaia’s father is deathly ill, and she’s doing everything she can to save him with a doctor’s medicine and her own herbal remedies. If he dies, not only will she lose her dad, whom she loves, but it will also leave their family vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft if there’s no man in the house. She’s already under suspicion for her use of herbal remedies, and her position is made more precarious by her love for Mateo, the inquisitor’s nephew, and her former friendship with a woman who was executed for possessing a mark associated with witchcraft. When Alaia is visited by a spirit, who later saves her from being hit by a carriage, the mark that condemned her friend appears on her, too—bringing new magical abilities with it. Despite her efforts to hide the mark, she’s found out; the inquisitor tries to have her executed, and when Mateo seemingly damns her too, she escapes. She’s aided by the spirit of Txomin, a boy she once knew and who reveals information to her about her long-lost brother. Over the course of this supernatural adventure story, Scott weaves in clear parallels between Alaia’s story and those of real-life women who were accused of being witches in Europe and America. She’s particularly deft at showing the ways in which people in power can threaten and exploit vulnerable societies by appealing to their bigotry. By filtering the story through the lens of an oppressed culture, Scott highlights that the novel is about the persecution of a vulnerable group rather than a struggle between similarly powerful forces. The author also makes strong use of figurative language to convey her central characters’ feelings, which becomes just as important to the book’s goal of inviting empathy as its plot points are; at one point, for instance, Alaia’s fear is described in the phrase: “A throbbing pain split across my chest, unfurling like tentacles.”

An insightful tale of persecution and survival.

Pub Date: July 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-94-285682-5

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2021

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A compelling tale of pizza, first love, and family loyalty.


In this nostalgic novel, a teenager starts delivering pizza under dire circumstances.

Seventeen-year-old Vinny Esposito has failed his driving test. In Eatontown, New Jersey, the sympathetic instructor lets him drive home, informing him that he can attempt the test again in three weeks. But at home, Vinny learns that his absentee mother has left for good, without even a note of explanation to him or his teen siblings, Laura and Timmy. With their father deceased, Vinny realizes he must join Timmy in the workforce to help support the family. He takes the Espositos’ old Datsun station wagon to Carlo’s Pizza and applies as a delivery driver. Vinny lies about having his driver’s license and joins the iconic neighborhood establishment. As a consistently hard worker, he impresses his mentor, Anthony, who soon promises him the chance for better pay. Eventually, Vinny begins making mysterious deliveries that involve empty pizza boxes and paper bags that he’s forbidden to peek into. He’s content to make the extra money and not ask questions. Then a letter from a bank arrives at the Esposito home. It says that the siblings must pay $17,000 or lose their house. Vinny unburdens himself to Anthony, who has a plan that might solve his problem—but can the teen avoid the entanglements of a dangerous business long enough to enact it? Ferraro’s novel focuses a loving eye on that staple of American culture, the family-owned Italian restaurant. Carlo’s has “plastic red and white checkered tablecloths” and wobbly tables that people forgive because the food is so good. Readers also learn of the restaurant’s sketchier dealings, the details of which play into Hollywood tropes of Italians as mobsters with hearts of gold. Certain elements, like the “rich douche” Billy Muscowski, feel rendered more to scratch the author’s nostalgic itch than serve the plot. But Vinny’s relationship with Anna Fanzotti, his forbidden first love, adds a mythic dimension to the protagonist’s heroic feats. Tonally, there is much to draw in the audience, especially the plot’s compact handling of Shakespearean-tinged romance and tragedy. By the end, readers will crave more from Vinny.

A compelling tale of pizza, first love, and family loyalty.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 9798367131420

Page Count: 351

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

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