For readers who love and appreciate a good coming-of-age story, a realistic romance, and a novel where every character gets...

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LETTING GO OF GRAVITY

Parker McCullough has just graduated as valedictorian, but the moment is bittersweet.

Her twin brother, Charlie, is not sitting with their class, instead repeating his senior year thanks to his leukemia. Charlie isn’t sure how to handle life after remission, and Parker isn’t sure how to handle a future she doesn’t want. Sure, she worked her butt off to get into Harvard and land that prestigious internship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital—but now the thought of becoming a doctor makes her feel sick. Fortunately, Ruby, a rising junior, becomes Parker’s new friend, and she reconnects with childhood classmate Finn, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Talking to Finn makes her brave enough to do what she wants, leaving the internship and working at a pottery studio, where, like clay on a wheel, she finally starts to take shape. These lifelike characters are perfectly imperfect in the face of their own challenges, whether that is physical abuse, cancer, or internal emotional struggles, with none presented as being of greater value than any other. Parker’s best friend Emerson is a lesbian, and Parker suffers from anxiety. Major characters are white other than Ruby, who is African-American, and there is ethnic diversity in the community.

For readers who love and appreciate a good coming-of-age story, a realistic romance, and a novel where every character gets to be a hero. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0316-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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