A charming and delightful romance with dynamic characters.

READ REVIEW

EYES ON ME

An academically driven high school student discovers a new perspective on life—and a chance at love—when she signs up for dance lessons in this YA novel.

For Lily Bailey, the high school experience is all about preparing for the future. A senior at Brighton High in Texas, she plans to become class valedictorian, then attend Harvard University, her parents’ alma mater. When the pressure of trying to maintain a perfect academic record lands her in the hospital for stress, her father, Steven, decides she needs to spend her Saturdays focused on an activity other than studying. She signs up for dance lessons at Ilusiòn, a studio run by the mother of classmate and star football player Ágoston “Stone” Torres. After Stone helps Lily with her first salsa lesson, her father offers the athlete a substantial amount of money to be her partner at the studio and convince her to keep taking lessons. Stone is conflicted; he does not want to lie to Lily or his mother, but the studio is struggling financially, and he could use the money to help keep it open. As the lessons continue, an attraction develops between Stone and Lily. She attends his football games and enjoys a life outside of school. They soon fall in love; but the weight of Stone’s secret could jeopardize their relationship. Harris’ (The Nanny Arrangement, 2017, etc.) romance is a warmhearted, breezy treat bolstered by strong characters, an engaging and multilayered story, and sharp writing. Lily and Stone are winsome protagonists who initially seem to have little in common. As their relationship develops, they discover they share similar experiences. Lily’s mother died of cancer while Stone’s sister, Angéla, survived a battle with the disease. The chapters alternate between Lily’s and Stone’s first-person perspectives, an approach that allows the author to explore their romance and their relationships with their parents, particularly Lily’s bond with her father. Her mother’s death was difficult for them, and Lily discovers a new connection to her through the dance lessons. The compulsively readable narrative is crisp and incisive, with flashes of wit. For example, when describing her dancing ability, Lily says: “I have zero rhythm. Like, think of your favorite dancer, subtract every ounce of talent they have…take a little more, and then you’ll have me.” This tale may appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen.

A charming and delightful romance with dynamic characters.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-526-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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