Offbeat and authentic—an uncommon treat.

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SAVING MONTGOMERY SOLE

It’s not easy being weird in tiny Aunty, California.

Sixteen-year-old Montgomery Sole is used to being “a mystery object” to most of her high school peers. Being a Canadian with two moms and zero interest in celebrities, cars, or clothes makes her a frequent target of stupid, hurtful comments. That’s probably why she loves to obsess over inexplicable phenomena like ESP, lucid dreaming, and hypnotism with her equally weird best friends, Thomas and Naoki. Neither their beloved Mystery Club nor Monty’s new magic amulet (purchased online for a mere $5.99) is a sufficient distraction, however, when a famously homophobic evangelist moves into town and his son begins attending their high school. Tamaki, author of Caldecott Honor book This One Summer, illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki (2014), balances the story’s lighter and more intense moments through Monty’s smart, forthright first-person narration. While Monty’s sardonic observations about her classmates are familiar teen fare, that doesn’t make them any less astute or amusing. Meanwhile, the well-developed and likable supporting cast raises the novel’s emotional stakes. Readers will empathize with Monty’s anger and fear when posters about saving the American family go up all around town, and Monty’s ex-crush finds new ways to prove he is a bully and bigot.

Offbeat and authentic—an uncommon treat. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-271-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A resounding success.

CONCRETE ROSE

This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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