Overall, this insightful and deeply felt novel makes a valuable contribution to an underexplored topic and is highly...

MONEY BOY

After four years in Canada, Ray Liu is stressed out. On top of his parents’ divorce in China, his father’s remarriage, learning English and struggling in high school, Ray faces another challenge: he’s gay.

Playing online war games is Ray’s safety valve, the one place he feels valued and successful. When his Chinese Army–vet father discovers Ray’s been visiting gay websites, he kicks Ray out of the house, tossing his clothes after him. Furious, Ray avoids seeking help from friends—none know of his sexual orientation—and heads to downtown Toronto. Within days he’ll be robbed, beaten, befriended, solicited and left with a decision to make: whether to become a “money boy,” joining the ranks of Toronto’s teen male prostitutes. Though not entirely sympathetic, Ray is compelling and believable; many of his frustrations are universal to adolescence: peer acceptance, family expectations. For Ray’s family and friends, contemporary immigrants who—thanks to cell phones and the Internet—remain closely connected to their first home, straddling cultures raises unique identity and assimilation issues. Yee effectively shows how Ray’s birth culture is unaccepting of homosexual identity and his acquired one, at best, is in transition. An ending that feels a tad unearned does not materially undermine the text.

Overall, this insightful and deeply felt novel makes a valuable contribution to an underexplored topic and is highly recommended. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55498-094-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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