Funny, sexy, and emotionally wrenching, this is a story of growing up

LOVE & OTHER CURSES

Magic, reality, and love combine in a tale of love and identity.

Ford (Lily, 2016, etc.) walks several tightropes as he introduces readers to 16-year-old gay country boy Sam Weyward, who is balancing life between his biological family and his created family, the drag queen performers he hangs out with at Shangri-La, the only gay bar around. Sam is from a line of supposedly cursed family members, destined to see the ones they love die—if they fall in love before age 17. When cute, straight, trans Tom Swift enters Sam’s life for the summer, the curse seems to be working in overdrive as losses hit both his families. Ford’s complex and eclectic characters are perfectly grounded in a world tinged with magic: the “Grands,” (Sam’s grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother) are Norn-like weird sisters who see small bits of magic in the world around them. Juxtaposed are the trio of queens who help guide Sam on his journey to find his inner drag queen: Lola, Farrah, and Paloma. Mysterious songwriter Linda and Sam’s hair-metal–loving father round out the cast. Unfortunately, Tom’s characterization as a stereotyped tragic trans teenager distracts from the magic; immediately deadnamed, his body subject to constant scrutiny, Tom’s plotline revolves around trope-y trauma and humiliation to enable the cis main character’s growth. All major characters are implied white apart from Farrah, who is African-American, and Paloma, who is Latinx.

Funny, sexy, and emotionally wrenching, this is a story of growing up . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279120-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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