A well-imagined world with point-of-view jumps that make it hard to invest in the characters as complex individuals.

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THE RESOLUTIONS

Looking ahead to their final year before graduation, four Latinx high school juniors deepen their friendship by altering their usual New Year’s Eve tradition.

The chapters are alternately named for Jess, Nora, Lee, and Ryan, teenagers whose families are part of the Latin American diaspora in Denver. The four engage in a witty ongoing group text chat. They worry about college admissions and whether they should attend at all. Collectively they lose a boyfriend, start new romances, mourn a relative, and argue with their parents. Trying to fulfill their resolutions, they run into a misunderstanding that tests their bonds. Diversity is the novel’s strength: Ryan and Nora, who runs a Puerto Rican restaurant with her mother, are gay. Some characters speak Spanish fluently, while others are trying to learn. Yet while culture is important to the story, the problems the friends encounter are universal. By splitting the story into four intersecting plotlines, García (Even If the Sky Falls, 2016) develops her characters with short strokes that preclude a great deal of depth, and their individual storylines become repetitive. The result is a slow-moving read that employs dramatic irony but doesn’t quite hit the mark with its more serious content.

A well-imagined world with point-of-view jumps that make it hard to invest in the characters as complex individuals. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265682-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful, a reminder to readers that it demands much to meet harsh realities...

SOLDIER BOY

Spanning the conflict-laden years of Uganda’s recent history, this debut novel–meets-biography is based on the true story of a former enslaved child soldier who escaped and found his own salvation in providing sanctuary for children who suffered a similar fate.

Ricky Richard Anywar was abducted as a child soldier in 1989 to fight for the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by the infamous fugitive war criminal Joseph Kony, as continuing legacies of political corruption and economic instability set Uganda on a dark path to civil war. This powerful novel, which features scenes of sheer horror, does not depend on readers’ ability to decipher the overwhelming structural factors that have thrown Ricky’s Uganda into violent chaos. Rather, it is most significantly a story that stands up for the unrelenting power of the human spirit to reject evil, the nigh-impossible odds that must be conquered to escape enslavement, and the deep scars that remain for a lifetime. In 2006, Samuel, a composite character representative of the thousands of children helped by Anywar’s acclaimed Friends of Orphans charity, gives voice to this intimate process of recovery. Interleaved chapters tell Ricky’s story from 1989 to 1992. Through Ricky’s story, Samuel can find himself home again, before he was a rebel and a soldier, before he was a victim and an orphan, to the time when he “was a student and classmate. A cousin and friend. A brother and son.”

Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful, a reminder to readers that it demands much to meet harsh realities with impossible courage. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30563-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Clear, simple tips to help young people embrace adulthood and lead more effective, happier lives.

Nine Ways to Empower Tweens with Emma and Elliot

YOU LEARN MORE FROM YOUR MISTAKES THAN FROM ALL OF YOUR SUCCESSES

Two fictional tweens outline important life skills for kids aged 10 to 12 in this self-help guide.

In her introduction, Boucher (A Simple Idea To Empower Kids, 2014) points out that she wrote her book in the voices of fraternal twins Emma and Elliot, “whose mission is to empower kids their own age.” Elliot introduces himself and his sister to readers, mentioning that they live on a farm in Canada and have a mother who writes books for kids. The narrative then proceeds in the twins’ first-person-plural voice, taking readers through nine chapters, each addressing specific, important life skills: “How to Speak Confidently,” “Start Each Day with Gratitude,” “Using Vision Boards, Big and Small,” “How to Get Rid of Anger and Frustration,” “Learning about Time and Focus,” “The Importance of Work Ethic,” “First Impressions and Interviews,” “Self-Talk Matters,” and “Start Each Day with Love in Your Heart.” Among the twins’ advice is to find at least one “coach” (and preferably more) in one’s quest to gain confidence; to realize that it takes 21 days to form a habit; to get enough sleep and stay hydrated in order to help manage stress; and to do tasks that one dislikes or dreads first, before any others. The twins make several references to quotes from other authors, including Eleanor Roosevelt (“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”) and Tony Robbins. In this work, Boucher respectfully addresses and encourages the self-development needs of emerging adults. However, her use of the twins as narrators is sometimes awkward, particularly when they draw on sources that aren’t very typical for tweens or when they rather robotically repeat the phrase, “The author has given permission to use the following excerpt.” One could also argue that starting one’s day with gratitude and starting one’s day with love are very similar concepts. Overall, however, Boucher’s nine chapters encapsulate good habits to form and follow, even if they sometimes cover similar ground.

Clear, simple tips to help young people embrace adulthood and lead more effective, happier lives.

Pub Date: May 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-5739-5

Page Count: 110

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2016

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