A cute romance featuring a heroine who never before got to feel cute.

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IT SOUNDED BETTER IN MY HEAD

An Australian teen embarks on romance in the wake of her parents’ divorce.

Natalie never knew anything was wrong with her parents’ marriage, let alone that they were on their way to divorce. But here it is, Christmas Day, and Natalie’s parents have sat her down and told her the honest truth: Their family is no more. Dad’s moving out, Mum is selling the house, and Natalie will be on her own, off to university. She does her best to move forward, supported by best friends Zach and Lucy and buoyed by flirty exchanges with Zach’s sexy older brother, Alex. Alex and Natalie’s romantic involvement unfolds in a way that may feel familiar, but what sets this novel apart is the courage this requires on Natalie’s part. Natalie’s early adolescence involved extremely heavy periods and cystic acne on her face and body that caused physical and emotional pain and left scars. The constant anxiety this caused led her to avoid leaving the house and invited unsolicited advice from peers and harassment from strangers. Natalie’s struggles with internalized self-hatred as well as knee-jerk judgment toward girls with flawless skin mean her physical relationship with cool, popular Alex depends on genuine trust. Young people, especially those who know the pain of feeling unattractive in an age of social media, will resonate with this sympathetically told journey. All characters seem to be white.

A cute romance featuring a heroine who never before got to feel cute. (Romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21926-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history

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  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

A teenage girl imprisoned in Auschwitz keeps the secret library of a forbidden school.

Dita Adlerova, 14, is confined in the notorious extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Compared to her fellow inmates, Dita’s relatively lucky. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. A young man named Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb, right under the noses of the Nazis. In Fredy’s classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. The tale, based on the real life of Dita Polach Kraus and the events of 1944 and 1945, intertwines the stories of several real people: Dita, Fredy, several little-known war heroes, even a grim cameo from Anne and Margot Frank. Holocaust-knowledgeable readers will have suspicions about how many characters will die horribly (spoiler alert: this is Auschwitz). Yet somehow, myriad storylines told by multiple narrators offer compelling narrative tension. Why does BIIb exist? Will Rudi and Alice have a romance? What’s Fredy’s secret? Will Dr. Mengele subject Dita to his grotesque experiments? Dita’s matter-of-fact perspective, set in a slow build from BIIb to the chaotic starvation of the war’s end, both increases the horror and makes it bearable to read.

Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history . (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-618-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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