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MONEY BOY

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

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 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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

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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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