At once romantic and revealing, an important window into contemporary conditions in the Middle East.

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RONIT & JAMIL

A timeless tale of star-crossed love set amid modern-day conflict.

Laskin’s novel in verse takes forbidden teen love à la Romeo and Juliet and sets it in present-day Israel. She portrays the Montagues and Capulets as Jews and Arabs, casting Ronit as the daring daughter of an Israeli pharmacist who falls for Jamil, the alluring son of a Palestinian doctor. What gives this contemporary reprise its ironic edge is that while the protagonists’ fathers work together and routinely set aside political differences in the service of healing the sick, their ingrained cultural prejudices prevent them from accepting that their beloved children have fallen for each other. Laskin is at pains to show how similar the teens are: they’ve been raised on the same foods—“hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush”—and both wish to buck convention, Ronit to duck her mandatory army service, Jamil to avoid following in his father’s footsteps to a career in medicine. Throughout, Laskin’s spare first-person poems and prefatory and end notes help educate young readers as to the gravity of the political stakes in this war-torn region where, while Ronit texts that “there is no separation barrier” between them, they both lament that their physical reality proves quite the opposite: “This wall / is so high; / 25 feet of concrete / 435 miles long.”

At once romantic and revealing, an important window into contemporary conditions in the Middle East. (Verse fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245854-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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