AMY MOVES IN

When Amy Stern and her family moved to their new flat she was so uncomfortable in her position as a newcomer she almost volunteered herself as a permanent steady ender on the jump rope of some neighboring children. Nine-year-old girls will recognize in her impulse the bottomless depth of Amy's desperation. The trouble with being a nine-year-old girl is that it takes most of the tenth year to get over it. The author follows Amy through her years of trial in a way that shows she's been there. The family scenes have the reality of relatives as they are rather than as the articles on child psychology that Amy's mother reads would have them be. The financially solid Uncle patronizes Amy's father, a very good man who has changed jobs often. The aunt, who comes to stay while Amy's mother is hospitalized after a fall, loves her nieces dearly, has lost all sympathy with children and her housecleaning is an heroic war in which Amy and her older sister often get swept aside. Amy, in her relationship with Laura, who is two years older, is the perfect rendering of the continuously irritated but ineradicable fondness of siblings who must share a bedroom. Amy learns to find her way through the social structure of the 4th grade, which will always be more arbitrary than that of cafe society, and reaches the stage where she can see sticking to her principles as more important than companions to walk home with. This is a very funny book that still offers readers valid insights into people and their behavior. Set near the and of the Depression, it is true to its time and true to the unchanging conditions of childhood.

Pub Date: May 22, 1964

ISBN: 0595175899

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1964

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A resounding success.

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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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