A feel-good story for both heart and soul.

INTERRUPTED

LIFE BEYOND WORDS

Teen author Coker’s blend of inspirational romance and historical fiction results in a predictable yet mostly satisfying debut.

When not caring for her single, ill mother at their Tennessee home in 1939, 14-year-old Alcyone (named for a star in the Taurus constellation), or simply Allie, is followed longingly by classmate Sam. After her mother’s death, the teen moves to Maine, where she’s adopted by prim Miss Beatrice, a Christian woman fond of clichés. She refuses to consider Beatrice family or to follow her to church, since her Christian father abandoned her mother. Instead, she deals with her grief by turning to Emily Dickinson poems (which introduce each chapter), her journal and dreams of writing professionally. Except that Allie has become an even more bitter and reserved teenager, not much has changed when the text skips ahead to 1943. Only the surprise arrival of Sam at a garden party has the power to jolt Allie out of her ongoing mourning. Their playful banter, as Allie tries not to fall for Sam and Sam tries not to scare her off with his abiding love, is the highlight of the novel. A few lapses in accuracy and consistency don’t detract from Allie’s coming of age. While Sam enlists in the war, Allie rethinks (albeit too tidily) her relationships with God and Beatrice.

A feel-good story for both heart and soul. (Christian fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72973-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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