Though there’s tantalizing potential romance, the novel is mostly a love story to best friends everywhere. Smart, charming,...

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WE ARE STILL TORNADOES

An exchange of letters (hey, it’s 1982!) between two longtime best friends strengthens their relationship.

Scott’s first letter to Cath thanks her for “four years of English homework” and wishes her well in college. His next letter contains both spelling mistakes and hilariously misused quotation marks. But in spite of deliberately downplaying his decision to underachieve, skip college, and work at the family business, both Scott’s voice and Cath’s reminder that he’s “way smarter” than most people at her college set the stage for his potential regret. And working at his dad’s clothing store does set up situations in which customers’ behaviors do make Scott feel socially diminished and frustrated. But the job also expands his relationship with his father, which Scott appreciates during reflective moments. Meanwhile, Cath finds college enlightening, though her roommate and navigating the college dating scene present challenges. Her parents’ divorce and the impending birth of her half sister further strain her academic focus. Through it all Scott and Cath’s letters perfectly capture the richness of their relationship—from silly inside jokes to heartfelt support during crisis moments and even occasionally very real frustration with the other’s decisions. Their unflinchingly honest voices as they navigate the transition to adulthood create the book’s emotional resonance. Racial identity never figures in the correspondence.

Though there’s tantalizing potential romance, the novel is mostly a love story to best friends everywhere. Smart, charming, and delightful. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-09840-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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