Both profoundly literary and sadly unsatisfying.


A diverse quartet of Dungeons & Dragons players spends the last week of summer before senior year road tripping from Philadelphia to Seattle.

Monday night D&D just doesn't feel the same as it has over the years since sixth grade. Archie, the straight white boy, has a newly out-and-proud dad. Archie won't tell anyone either about his father's gayness or about his own attraction to the Dungeon Master, Mari, who wants to be a writer. Mari's closest with Dante, the only other black kid in school, a gigantic, nonathletic, deeply closeted computer geek. Their circle is closed out by Filipino Sam, who is devoted to his girlfriend, Sarah. Sarah's family moves across the country, leaving Sam heartbroken, and soon the four gaming friends are headed out on a road trip in pursuit, told through shifting perspectives. Mari worries about illness in the family and being a transracial adoptee, and Dante about having been outed to his religious and judgmental grandparents. Meanwhile, Archie makes frequent unwanted sexual and racial jokes, while Sam's merely sullen and unfriendly. They each have an epiphany—some more rewarding than others. Though the setup appears to be tailor-made for a #weneeddiversebooks world, its execution falls short with its characters’ arcs: the straight white creep is rewarded, the gay black mensch is punished, and girls are judged for being insufficiently geeky or insufficiently sexually available.

Both profoundly literary and sadly unsatisfying. (Fiction. 15-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4405-8814-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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An entertaining tale that breaks no new ground.


Chloe’s life is falling apart.

Her dad has a girlfriend, her mom is suffering from depression and the aftermath of cancer, and she’s had to move with her mom to the town of Joyful, Texas, where she has only one friend, Lindsey, whose mother is lesbian. When she meets Cash, things seem to be looking up. But Cash comes with a host of complications, not the least of which is the fact he’s convinced that Chloe is the same girl his foster parents had kidnapped from them as an almost-3-year-old. But how could that be? Chloe’s parents love her and have never hidden the fact she was adopted. As the two of them dive deeper into the mysteries of the past and the dangers of the present, they also dive deeper in love. But can their fledgling romance survive the onslaught of brutal reality? Hunter (This Heart of Mine, 2018, etc.) deftly delivers a complicated back-and-forth point of view between Chloe and Cash, building suspense along with a steamy sense of attraction between the two teens. Occasionally the plot and dialogue feel canned and forced, sprinkled with clichés and tired exclamations such as, “I swallow the lump in my throat and jerk back, removing my B cup boobs from some guy’s chest.” The book assumes a white default.

An entertaining tale that breaks no new ground. (Romance. 15-17)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31227-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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