A realistic romance illuminating the difficulties of experiencing discrimination while reaching for a dream (Fiction. 14-18)

UNSCRIPTED

Zelda Bailey-Cho dreams of comedy fame, but are the obstacles worth the fight?

Will the rules of improv help Zelda through a turbulent summer at the improv camp founded by her idol? Zelda is surprised to learn she’s one of just five girls in a sea of 200 male campers. Luckily, the girls in Gilda Radner cabin quickly form an emotional support system. Talented and driven, Zelda earns a spot on the camp’s elite improv team and falls for her tall, blond coach, Ben. At first excited and then confused and horrified, Zelda struggles to manage her cabin mates’ high expectations, Ben’s advances, and unchecked sexual harassment from her male teammates. She always knew that being female in the comedy world would be challenging, but how can she balance standing up for herself and being a trailblazer? Strong character development and exploration of timely topics make this novel shine despite its being somewhat weakened by unbelievable plot points and a tidy ending. Thoughtfully created diverse characters, who are specifically described and involved in both queer and straight relationships, model navigating social situations without assuming norms, whether relating to sexual identity labels or family structure. Most heartening of all, Zelda’s second chance at love provides a healthy counterpoint to Ben’s abusive behavior. Curly haired Zelda, who is white, is part of a blended Korean Scottish family.

A realistic romance illuminating the difficulties of experiencing discrimination while reaching for a dream (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4084-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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