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THE OCEAN IN MY EARS

An unforgettable journey to adulthood

Merideth “Meri” Miller’s future is a black hole, but the summer before senior year stretches before her, and her life is changing faster than she can keep up.

Meri’s white best friend, Charlie, spends all of her time with her new boyfriend; her grandmother is dying; her brother is in a serious accident; and she struggles with decisions: where to go to college and when to have sex for the first time. Her two-faced boyfriend, older white guy Brett, is all hands and runs hot and cold, but she ignores the red flags; at least he’s interested in her. The boy she wishes she were with, her longtime crush, the elusive Joaquin, who is Mexican, seems mildly interested, although he doesn’t act on his feelings. Meri is complex: her desire to leave her small hometown of Soldotna, Alaska, after graduation battles the 17-year-old white girl’s fear of leaving for the unknown. She questions everything and asks all the right questions; themes of life and death, ecstasy and grief, and loss and gain permeate the story. Her story eventually subverts the familiar heteronormative plotline, in which the girl gives up everything for the boy and allows herself to be defined by his feelings for her. Her candid first-person narrative is punctuated by journal entries, notes exchanged with her best friend, and letters between Meri and her grandmother. The 1990s setting is marked by tsunami-height hair, acid-wash denim, and multiple trips to see Pretty Woman.

An unforgettable journey to adulthood . (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-932010-94-7

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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BINDING 13

From the Boys of Tommen series , Vol. 1

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship.

A battered girl and an injured rugby star spark up an ill-advised romance at an Irish secondary school.

Beautiful, waiflike, 15-year-old Shannon has lived her entire life in Ballylaggin. Alternately bullied at school and beaten by her ne’er-do-well father, she’s hopeful for a fresh start at Tommen, a private school. Seventeen-year-old Johnny, who has a hair-trigger temper and a severe groin injury, is used to Dublin’s elite-level rugby but, since his family’s move to County Cork, is now stuck captaining Tommen’s middling team. When Johnny angrily kicks a ball and knocks Shannon unconscious (“a soft female groan came from her lips”), a tentative relationship is born. As the two grow closer, Johnny’s past and Shannon’s present become serious obstacles to their budding love, threatening Shannon’s safety. Shannon’s portrayal feels infantilized (“I looked down at the tiny little female under my arm”), while Johnny comes across as borderline obsessive (“I knew I shouldn’t be touching her, but how the hell could I not?”). Uneven pacing and choppy sentences lead to a sudden climax and an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending. Repetitive descriptions, abundant and misogynistic dialogue (Johnny, to his best friend: “who’s the bitch with a vagina now?”), and graphic violence also weigh down this lengthy tome (considerably trimmed down from its original, self-published length). The cast of lively, well-developed supporting characters, especially Johnny’s best friend and Shannon’s protective older brother, is a bright spot. Major characters read white.

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship. (author’s note, pronunciations, glossary, song moments, playlists) (Romance. 16-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781728299945

Page Count: 626

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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