Olivia Tate, newly graduated from high school, returns to her late father's house in New Hampshire to complete another rite of passage in this slight novel. The structure of the book is a 70-mile bicycle ride over the same route her father took as a test of will. Seeking to repeat her father's feat, Livvy goes back in memory to the previous summer when she and her father met for the first time since he abandoned the baby Olivia and her mother. He was a proudly isolationist New Englander, conservative in his views and contemptuous of her professor mother. He wrote mysteries, which Olivia has made a point never to read. Her parents are opposites; Fleischman never hints at the attraction which produced Olivia. Instead, he describes a summer of sniping during which each hesitantly reaches out to the other to find a tentative rapprochement. As Olivia ends her ride, the resolution is confirmed: she has found a way to meld both heritages into her life. The difference in the parents are so complete as to be schematic; Olivia's resolution of them ties up the ends too tidily. Olivia does have a wryly self-conscious voice which makes her entertaining. Her father, given to too many sarcastic proclamations, is less so. Other characters are not well limned; the reader, with the task of figuring out which summer is which, may not care. There is suspense as to whether Olivia will finish her bicycle trip, and a lovely turn of phrase which sticks in the memory. These are the book's virtues, but it's as tidy as a sampler and about as interesting.

Pub Date: April 1, 1986

ISBN: 0060218665

Page Count: 117

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1986

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.


Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.


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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