An often powerful intergenerational story that overcomes its commonplace life lessons.


A realistic YA story follows a teen’s journey from caving in to peer pressure to finding her own path.

Carney’s debut novel opens with 14-year-old Jennifer Shaw making a poor decision to help her friend and fellow student Sammy steal a purse from an older woman. From the very beginning, the author highlights Jennifer’s thought processes; the girl feels reluctance about the endeavor but also assumes that Sammy knows what he’s doing. Jennifer is caught by authorities and sentenced to community service in the Pine Rest Care Center. There, she’ll interact with many elderly people, as the judge wants her to learn to respect her elders. The teen begins a journey of self-discovery that alternates between negative influences and new, positive ones. For example, she later teases Tom Goodhue, her classmate and math whiz—until she realizes that she has more in common with him than she thought. Carney effectively shows how Jennifer gradually progresses from a state of somewhat numb unhappiness to a warmer attitude that includes growing respect for the seniors of Pine Rest as well as for the many adults who support her. (The teen even grudgingly helps plan a dance inspired by her comment that Tom is from “Planet Weirdo”—a mean concept that’s transformed into a creative story.) At the same time, she enjoys the attention of Sammy, who’s fallen in with a suspect group of people, and eventually she must choose a side. The smooth pacing of the text admirably sets up Jennifer’s relationships, and Carney ably develops many characters as she muses on the nature of community service. Overall, the book’s concepts aren’t new, but readers will enjoy how the author portrays Jennifer’s spunk, creativity, and growth as she faces changes in her life.

An often powerful intergenerational story that overcomes its commonplace life lessons.

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68470-672-3

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.


From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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