SCRIBBLER OF DREAMS

A literal blood feud in which warring factions of the same family have engaged for a century suffuses this readable if overwrought story of love between teens from opposing sides. Seventeen-year-old Kaitlin Malone, living with her mother and sister on their farm in contemporary northern California, has grown up detesting the wealthy Crutchfields—and they her side of the family. Misunderstandings and lies about each clan that have been perpetuated for generations have fueled the animosity, but Kaitlin’s even worse dilemma is that she and schoolmate Bram Crutchfield fall deeply in love almost from the moment they meet, though under false pretenses. Forced by straitened finances to attend a public high school—situated on Crutchfield land—Kaitlin enrolls under an assumed surname. It turns out that there’ll be more need for secrecy than “mere” bad blood, however. Not until she learns Bram’s last name does Kaitlin realize that he’s not only the “enemy” but also the son of the man her father is in prison for killing. To keep the relationship flourishing, she is forced to continue lying and weaves a more and more elaborate web of deceit in which she, her family, and her and Bram’s friends become hopelessly entangled. Enlightenment and hope that something good can emerge from the age-old enmity come when Kaitlin reads the journals of the family’s progenitor, a dedicated and talented writer like she is. In the journals Kaitlin discovers the truth behind the age-old disputes, and the diaries seem finally to point Kaitlin and Bram to a legacy of promise and not continued blind hatred. Romeo and Juliet this isn’t, but fans of teen angst and undying-love stories will probably appreciate the effort. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202320-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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