Readers wanting a real taste of Austen won’t find it, but it’s a pleasant enough sojourn in her world regardless

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THE SECRET DIARY OF LYDIA BENNET

Farrant bravely takes on Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the youngest Bennet sister.

This tale offers a peek into the life of 15-year-old Lydia Bennet, the youngest of the infamous Bennet sisters who grace the romantic stage of Pride and Prejudice. Farrant’s Lydia Bennet is a flighty, boisterous tomboy who likes to ride horses and shoot guns by day, easily switching gears to wear her finest dresses at any prestigious ball that she can attend. In the spirit of the time, like every eligible young British teenager of privilege, Lydia lets her eyes roam every public event, hoping to find the perfect suitor, one who will take her on worldly adventures and rescue her from life with her dull family—which, readers will note, is characterized by servants, glamorous balls, and no chores. This story is a whimsical introduction for teen readers who have yet to taste the waters of the world of Mr. Darcy, and yes, readers get a few glimpses of the dark brooding aristocrat because, as with all things Bennet, Darcy is always lurking nearby. Despite the title, the novel offers little in the way of secrets, as this tale is necessarily predictable, and Lydia’s voice and interpolated scenes don’t do enough to give it real originality. Yet at the same time, there is a charming humor that Farrant does manage to capture for readers who want to take another romp in the Bennet household.

Readers wanting a real taste of Austen won’t find it, but it’s a pleasant enough sojourn in her world regardless . (Historical fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-94031-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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