THE SHADOW CLUB RISING

Coinciding with the re-release of Shusterman’s first novel (The Shadow Club, 1988), this sequel addresses the lingering consequences of hatred and revenge. Ninth-grader Jared Mercer wants desperately to be just another kid; but as the ex-leader of the Shadow Club, infamous for terrorizing outstanding students with nasty practical jokes, he remains the focus of lingering suspicion, resentment, and (most disturbing) admiration. His guilt over his actions turns to apprehension when superstar student Alec Smartz arrives, for Alec’s competitive drive evokes as much jealousy as popularity. Sure enough, the pranks start up again—harmless at first, but progressively more sinister—and everyone, even his parents, is convinced that Jared is to blame. In order to protect Alec and clear his own name, Jared must become the monster that everyone assumes he already is. In one of those rare sequels that surpass the original, Shusterman delivers thrilling suspense through probing the dark side of the adolescent psyche. Nuanced characterization ensures that there are no clear-cut villains or heroes; even the upbeat ending has a disturbingly creepy edge. As a remorseful former menace, Jared is a less provocative character than the vengeful bully of the first novel, but he is also much more self-aware and likable. His wry observations on how good people can delude themselves into justifying the most appalling acts seem particularly timely. The mystery and nonstop action will draw teens in; but the uncomfortable questions raised about guilt and responsibility will linger on. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46835-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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