Phenomenal.

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ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL

Allie Abraham is tired of being a “receptacle for unguarded Just Between Us White People ignorance” and discomfort.

Moving from place to place with her Circassian Jordanian professor father and white American psychologist mother, Allie has been a chameleon, blending in as the perfect all-American girl. Very few people know that Allie is actually Alia and that both her parents are Muslim. Her mother converted upon marrying her no-longer-practicing father, who encourages his daughter to take advantage of the pale skin and reddish-blonde hair that help her avoid being profiled. Allie yearns to connect to her religion and heritage—and to her Teta, the grandmother with whom she is only able to communicate in broken Arabic. Her new boyfriend, Wells Henderson, seems so genuine and likable, unlike his father, a conservative, xenophobic cable newscaster. As Allie embraces all the parts of who she is and confronts Islamophobia, she wonders if others can fully accept her growth. The book handles the complexity and intersectionality of being a Muslim American woman with finesse, addressing many aspects of identity and Islamic opinions. Allie, who has a highly diverse friend group, examines her white-passing privilege and race as well as multiple levels of discrimination, perceptions of conversion, feminism, sexual identity, and sexuality. While grounded in the American Muslim experience, the book has universal appeal thanks to its nuanced, well-developed teen characters whose struggles offer direct parallels to many other communities.

Phenomenal. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30952-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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