Part adventure, part coming-of-age novel, and altogether a page-turner.

A timid girl with one eye must survive in the Amazon rainforest.

Ever since losing her left eye at age 7, almost 17-year-old Danger Danielle Warren hasn’t fit her first name. Preferring “Danny” but nicknamed “Pigeon” by her classmates for her lack of depth perception, she’s collected a plethora of fears, including heights, snakes, blindness, and being a burden or embarrassment—especially to her fearless, estranged father, Cougar, who hosts a survivalist reality show. When he invites her to an episode set in the Peruvian rainforest featuring hot teen actor Gus Price as a guest star, Danny vows to regain Cougar’s respect. But when their plane crashes, Danny’s life depends on conquering her fears. Vivid descriptions of the rainforest’s lush, unforgiving landscape, teeming with oppressive heat, poisonous creatures, and edible grubs, plunge readers into the brutally realistic action. But as Cougar and his crew keep the camera rolling, the exploration of human nature becomes paramount, and Danny learns a harsh truth about her father. Through Danny’s reflective narration, the group’s expository confessions, and Gus and Danny’s lightly described romance, Fischer (When Elephants Fly, 2018, etc.) perceptively examines such issues as divorce, narcissism, parental expectations, and forgiveness. Characters’ interactions largely ring true, as does Danny’s hard-won metamorphosis from self-conscious to self-confident. Danny, Cougar, and Gus are white; one crew member is Japanese American, and another is cued as black.

Part adventure, part coming-of-age novel, and altogether a page-turner. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-92824-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019


There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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