No new literary ground is broken here, but readers seeking a sweet story of first love will sigh appreciatively.

SIXTEENTH SUMMER

From the Swept Away series

Love blossoms between a summer boy and a local girl in a chaste romance set on the foggy coast of Maine.

Goofy out-of-towner Oliver sweeps the virginal, insecure Mandy off her feet with his warm smile and sketch pad. What follows is a whirlwind of blueberry hand pies, stolen kisses, and crafty high jinks to save the local lighthouse. Dalton's light prose sidesteps the current vogue for overwrought darkness in teen fiction; the only shadow cast on the romance is the inevitability of summer’s end, and the dramatic tension in their innocent attachment centers on Oliver’s wish for Mandy to find her voice and use it. Employing simple tropes—the misunderstood loner, the anxious-harridan mom, the beauty-queen best friend—Dalton imparts simple wisdom about being true to oneself and seeing beyond surface impressions of other people. The mildness of the story harkens back to an earlier era of teen romance, belying the ubiquity of cellphones and Internet connections. Readers titillated by the butt-groping clinch on the front cover may well be disappointed by the innocence within.

No new literary ground is broken here, but readers seeking a sweet story of first love will sigh appreciatively. (Romance. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3609-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel.

MAPPING THE BONES

A Holocaust tale with a thin “Hansel and Gretel” veneer from the author of The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988).

Chaim and Gittel, 14-year-old twins, live with their parents in the Lodz ghetto, forced from their comfortable country home by the Nazis. The siblings are close, sharing a sign-based twin language; Chaim stutters and communicates primarily with his sister. Though slowly starving, they make the best of things with their beloved parents, although it’s more difficult once they must share their tiny flat with an unpleasant interfaith couple and their Mischling (half-Jewish) children. When the family hears of their impending “wedding invitation”—the ghetto idiom for a forthcoming order for transport—they plan a dangerous escape. Their journey is difficult, and one by one, the adults vanish. Ultimately the children end up in a fictional child labor camp, making ammunition for the German war effort. Their story effectively evokes the dehumanizing nature of unremitting silence. Nevertheless, the dense, distancing narrative (told in a third-person contemporaneous narration focused through Chaim with interspersed snippets from Gittel’s several-decades-later perspective) has several consistency problems, mostly regarding the relative religiosity of this nominally secular family. One theme seems to be frustration with those who didn’t fight back against overwhelming odds, which makes for a confusing judgment on the suffering child protagonists.

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-25778-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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