Marcus’ journey reads more like a preachy after-school special than a story of true growth out of tragedy.

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KILLER DROP

From the SideStreets series

Marcus has a trust fund, acceptance to an elite university, and a sense of entitlement. But when tragedy strikes, he must decide whether to risk everything for what really matters.

Whether it is skiing, sex, or drinking, the white boy is all about pushing the boundaries. During the grade-12 ski trip to Whistler, Marcus convinces his Chinese-Canadian friend, Tom, a scholarship student, and the lovely Latina Yasmin (one parent is Muslim, and the other is Catholic) to ski with him out of bounds. Yasmin dies and Tom is left paralyzed. But as usual, Marcus is untouchable. His father’s response to the tragedy is to throw money at it. His mother’s is to self-medicate. Marcus, forced to confront himself, hates what he sees. In spite of its brevity, few words on a page, and simple vocabulary, this book is aimed squarely at teens. Coarse language, sex, drinking, and a frank discussion of suicide are all part of this tale. Unfortunately, while the message is good and the sense of audience on target, the delivery is poor. The tone is overly earnest, the secondary characters are static, and the plot is obvious. Further, both Marcus’ and Tom’s transformations feel simplistic and rushed.

Marcus’ journey reads more like a preachy after-school special than a story of true growth out of tragedy. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4594-1093-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: James Lorimer

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss...

TELL ME THREE THINGS

Jessie’s unassimilated grief over her mother’s death makes her dad’s abrupt marriage to Rachel, a wealthy widow he met online, and their subsequent move from Chicago to her mansion in Los Angeles feel like betrayal.

Rachel’s son wants nothing to do with Jessie. Her first week at his private school is agonizing. When she gets an email from “Somebody Nobody,” claiming to be a male student in the school and offering to act as her “virtual spirit guide,” Jessie’s suspicious, but she accepts—she needs help. SN’s a smart, funny, supportive guide, advising her whom to befriend and whom to avoid while remaining stubbornly anonymous. Meanwhile, Jessie makes friends, is picked as study partner by the coolest guy in AP English, and finds a job in a bookstore, working with the owner’s son, Liam. But questions abound. Why is Liam’s girlfriend bullying her? What should she do about SN now that she’s crushing on study-partner Ethan? Readers will have answers long before Jessie does. It’s overfamiliar territory: a protagonist unaware she’s gorgeous, oblivious to male admiration; a jealous, mean-girl antagonist; a secret admirer, easily identified. It’s the authentic depiction of grief—how Jessie and other characters respond to loss, get stuck, struggle to break through—devoid of cliché, that will keep readers engaged. Though one of Jessie’s friends has a Spanish surname, rich, beautiful, mostly white people are the order of the day.

Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss when life itself means inevitable change. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53564-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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