A beautiful and unforgettable story about a girl who learns she must lose who she thought she was before she can become who...

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THE CIRCUS

Part-Romanian, “dark as a gypsy” Willow Stephens has been raised by nannies and posh boarding schools.

Willow has everything except what she really wants: her millionaire father’s attention. Wanting to feel connected to her estranged, circus-performer mother, Willow decides she, too, will join the circus. With her gap-year savings buried deep in the lining of her bag, 17-year-old Willow reinvents herself as Frog, circus performer. When she befriends homeless street performer Suz, a “tanned skinned, yellow-dreadlocked” Australian, Willow trusts the wrong person and ends up penniless. When the young women meet again, Willow is understandably untrusting. But Suz takes Willow into her squat, feeds her, and teaches her how to juggle—and eat—fire. When the circus comes to town, Willow auditions and goes on the road, leaving lost soul Suz behind. The story never romanticizes homelessness; it’s represented as the harsh reality it is. Women in their infinite variety are celebrated: Willow sees her “thick” wrists and ankles as an asset; she recalls the golden hairs on her mother’s face as beautiful; and one of the circus members is a charismatic trans woman named Delilah. Poetically fluid descriptions of Willow’s emotions and her surroundings bolster the sometimes-uneven first-person narrative.

A beautiful and unforgettable story about a girl who learns she must lose who she thought she was before she can become who she’s meant to be . (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78607-094-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Rock the Boat/Oneworld

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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