OFF LIMITS

Surprised to find himself attracted to the new, middle-aged music teacher, 15-year-old Birmingham negotiates his first intimate relationships with her and teenage Jenna in a whirlwind of sex and innuendo.

Birmingham has always been less limelight-hungry than his best friend, Geoff. New girlfriend Jenna seems to always be interested in sex, though, and in the most daring of circumstances. Not altogether sure he is keen, Birm slowly finds himself drawn to fellow musician Amber Flood, who is a substitute teacher at his school and married to a writer he admires. Trouble ensues, as is to be expected. This is a refreshing reversal from the usual boy-intent-on-sex-while-the-girl-looks-for-emotional-connection plot. The hints at how the adult world works blend with teen naïveté to create situations that may seem ambiguous to the main character at first glance, but not so much to readers, or in Birmingham’s hindsight, either. The writing is thoughtful, if pedestrian. Short as this is, the main appeal is to reluctant readers who are ready for the mature content and the fast pace of events. There’s a good grab on the first page when Geoff chortles loudly through a large list of synonyms for sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, the unrealistic depiction of school administrators and the unsatisfying resolution let Birmingham, Ms. Flood and readers all down. (Fiction. 12-16)

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4594-0083-2

Page Count: 152

Publisher: James Lorimer

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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