Messy, flawed, but utterly brilliant in its humanity.

THE END

Just over a month—that’s how long humanity has left before a comet named Foxworth collides with the Earth.

Simon wants to spend his remaining days beside his ex-girlfriend, Tilda, who dumped him in favor of experiencing life before their final day arrives. Simon, however, can’t seem to let go while Tilda sheds her old self more than ever, indulging in drugs and random hookups like most of their doom-conscious peers. Things are strained at home, where Simon tries to avoid the rising tensions between himself and his moms, exacerbated by the return of his pregnant older sister. Then Tilda turns up dead and everyone suspects Simon, including Tilda’s former best friend, Lucinda. Lucinda chronicles the chaos around her, as well as memories of her deceased friend, via an app. But as Simon and Lucinda uncover secrets from Tilda’s life, they become obsessed with solving her murder. A sprawling, at times meandering tale, bestselling author Strandberg’s latest moves a day at a time, an uneasy crawl toward the inevitable. Set in Sweden, the novel offers glimpses of turmoil abroad through pointed sociopolitical commentary and oblique observations on race. Although the trite murder mystery threatens to derail the narrative’s emotional impetus, strong character development brings it all together in the end. Most characters are White; Simon is biracial (his biological mother is Black from Dominica and his moms chose a White sperm donor).

Messy, flawed, but utterly brilliant in its humanity. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64690-006-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Arctis Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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