Overwhelming and breathless.

All the world—including a childhood home—is a stage!

Finn, a White 17-year-old, has a lot going on in his life: His blended family—consisting of his lesbian mothers, White Lula and Black Nomi, and his gay biracial college-age brothers, Andre and Kendrick, who are identical twins—is putting on an “interactive play meets murder mystery meets escape room” in their Victorian home, the Jorgensen House. The house is owned by the Beauregard Theatre and was a pet project of the former artistic director, who supported Lula’s plan to use the basement for set and prop storage while turning the upper floors into rental space for weddings and events. With the previous director’s passing, the new person is looking to trim the budget and sell the home. If that’s not enough, Finn is also trying to woo drama student Alexa, deal with complicated feelings about former friend Jade, and score a place in his high school’s acting lab, which he hopes will help him with his college goals. It’s a lot—and there’s more! A leaky roof, a cancer scare, a hidden treasure, and various actors’ individual issues all make their ways into a complicated plot that also addresses racism, sexuality, and privilege. The novel may appeal to those who enjoy the stress and chaos of an opening night, but for others it could feel like an overstuffed reading experience that doesn’t offer enough space to reflect on all the content.

Overwhelming and breathless. (sources) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5456-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


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


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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