A decade on, as relevant as ever and likely to capture the hearts of even more readers.

Vargas adapts Medina’s Pura Belpré Award winner into graphic-novel form.

Piedad Maria Sanchez, Piddy for short, is starting sophomore year at a new school in Queens while her best friend, Mitzi, is off to school in Long Island. Piddy is Cuban and Dominican, but she struggles to find a place with her Latine peers in her new school. In fact, Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass; as Piddy says, “I don’t fit her idea of a Latina at all.” Though Piddy tries to keep her head down and avoid confrontation, the bullying at school continues to escalate from threats and misogynistic name-calling to being jumped by a group of girls on her way home. Living with constant anxiety takes its toll on Piddy: She pushes away her mom and Mitzi and even ponders dropping out of school altogether to escape her tormentors. Readers will find themselves in turns rooting for Piddy and frustrated by her choices. In each of her relationships, Piddy learns how secrets can fester and that intimacy and trust are built through transparency. This graphic adaptation is a fast-paced page-turner. Vargas keeps the text to a minimum and communicates much of Piddy’s inner turmoil wordlessly, proving the effectiveness of this format. The panels, illustrated in blue, gray, black, and white, have clean, minimalist backgrounds, putting the people and their emotions front and center.

A decade on, as relevant as ever and likely to capture the hearts of even more readers. (Graphic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781536224771

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution.

A teenage girl finds herself alone after everyone else in her town mysteriously disappears, leaving her scrambling to figure out how to find them all.

One late summer day, everybody in July Fielding’s town disappears. She is left to piece together what happened, following a series of cryptic signs she finds around town urging her to “GET THEM BACK.” The narrative moves back and forth between July’s present and the events of the summer before, when her relationship with her best friend, cross-country team co-captain Sydney, starts to fracture due to a combination of jealousy over July’s new relationship with a cute boy called Sam and sweet up-and-coming freshman Ella’s threatening to overtake Syd’s status as star of the track team. The team members participate in a ritual in which they jump off a cliff into the rocky waters below at the end of their Friday practice runs. Though Ella is reluctant, Syd pressures her to jump. Short, frenetically paced sections move the story along quickly, and there is much foreshadowing pointing to something terrible that occurred at the end of that summer, which may be the key to July’s current predicament, but there is much misdirection too. Ultimately this is a story without enough setup to make the turn the book takes in the end feel fully developed or earned. All characters read white.

A high-concept premise that falls short in its execution. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780593327173

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true.

A gut-wrenching look at how addiction affects a family and a town.

Emory Ward, 16, has long been invisible. Everyone in the town of Mill Haven knows her as the rich girl; her workaholic parents see her as their good child. Then Emory and her 17-year-old brother, Joey, are in a car accident in which a girl dies. Joey wasn’t driving, but he had nearly overdosed on heroin. When Joey returns from rehab, his parents make Emory his keeper and try to corral his addictions with a punitive list of rules. Emory rebels in secret, stealing small items and hooking up with hot neighbor Gage, but her drama class and the friends she gradually begins to be honest with help her reach her own truth. Glasgow, who has personal experience with substance abuse, bases this story on the classic play Our Town but with a twist: The characters learn to see and reach out to each other. The cast members, especially Emory and Joey, are exceptionally well drawn in both their struggles and their joys. Joey’s addiction is horrifying and dark, but it doesn’t define who he is. The portrayal of small-town life and its interconnectedness also rings true. Emory’s family is White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast, and an important adult mentor is gay. Glasgow mentions in her author’s note that over 20 million Americans struggle with substance abuse; she includes resources for teens seeking help.

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70804-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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