An unusual, uplifting take on self-discovery and starting over.

HOW WE ROLL

After losing her hair—and friends—to alopecia, a high school freshman struggles to find her identity in a new school.

When Quinn’s family moves from Colorado to Massachusetts to address her autistic little brother Julius’ challenging “special needs,” Quinn vows that this will be a fresh start. No one will know that her beautiful hair is a wig. No one will know about that One Stupid Night, an uncomfortably realistic incident of sexual harassment that haunts her. Soon, her slate is full of friends, but Quinn’s popularity feels as precarious as the wig taped to her head—especially when she meets Nick, a bitter, artistic former football player who lost his legs to his brother’s drunken driving. As Quinn and Nick’s prickly relationship deepens, so do their characters; Friend’s (The Other F-Word, 2017, etc.) attention to physical and emotional detail brings readers into their anxious, itchy skins as both learn to trust and forgive. Frank discussions of phantom pain and post-traumatic stress add nuance to Nick’s bitterness. Alopecia support chats provide insight into Quinn’s sense of isolation, worsened by Julius’ demands on her parents. Unfortunately, Julius’ portrayal is jarringly distant; despite Quinn’s seeming acceptance, his clever flashes of personality are reduced to obsessions or therapeutic progress. Quinn and her family are white, her friend Carmen is Dominican, and other friends are ethnically ambiguous.

An unusual, uplifting take on self-discovery and starting over. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30566-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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