OVER THE WATER

In a passionately vivid first novel, Casey re-creates her own experience of seeking an identity while growing up Irish in England. Fourteen-year-old Mary and her family are tense and unhappy in London, where they currently live out of economic necessity. Volatile Mammy has lost all patience with daughter Mary, who—though head of her class—rebels at the strictures of parents who counter anti-Irish prejudice with their own rigid standards. When the family makes their first visit home to Kilkenny since Mammy's father's death, Mammy's demands are as harsh as ever, and she forbids the grieving Mary to go near the horses that Mary loves as her grandfather did. Granny and sympathetic aunt Nuala are some comfort; still, after Mary is severely beaten without being allowed to explain offenses that are only partly her fault, she is so overcome with a sense of isolation and of the inevitability of death that she withdraws completely. Details of Irish farm life are as beautifully observed and lyrically rendered as Mary's troubled emotions; a poignant, exquisitely written scene when Granny confides her own grief while Mary helps prepare a meal is one of many offering rich insights into these diverse characters. The earthier details of farm life add texture to the portrayal of a people close to a heritage of foreign repression and bare subsistence; quick to anger, they also know the kind of unbridled sport and healing laughter that bring Mary and her mother closer during a harvest festival at the end. A wonderful, resonant story. Glossary. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-3276-2

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1994

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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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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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