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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A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

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THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A simply real story, devoid of clichés, that will leave an indelible mark.

AN EMOTION OF GREAT DELIGHT

Shadi’s life is slowly falling apart: Her best friend, Zahra, doesn’t talk to her anymore, and her parents are dealing with grief and depression in the aftermath of her brother Mehdi’s sudden death.

It’s 2003, and all of this is compounded by the hatred Shadi receives every day at school for being Iranian American and a hijabi. The lack of support leaves Shadi struggling to keep afloat. She’s behind in her classes and exhausted because she often stays up at night listening to her mother’s agonizing despair over losing Mehdi. Her father, once a healthy, fit man, recently had a second heart attack, and Shadi’s sister, Shayda, has taken over running the house. Everyone is so mired in their own trauma and pain that Shadi, the youngest, often finds herself forgotten, both literally and figuratively. The expectation of keeping one’s home life private and of separating the political from the personal are themes throughout the book. Woven through this story of trauma and resilience is a soft romance between Shadi and Zahra’s brother, Ali. Mafi confronts issues of mental health, suicidality, racism, and self-love in ways that will leave readers reacting viscerally and powerfully. Reading this novel is like being dropped straight into the everyday lives of a Muslim family in post–9/11 America.

A simply real story, devoid of clichés, that will leave an indelible mark. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297241-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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