A novel about liminality with little in the way of originality.

READ REVIEW

THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY

A seventh grader plots to run away to Grandma’s instead of going on a family trip abroad.

Half-Guatemalan, half-white Quijana, named for Don Quixote, is much happier identifying as Anglo than Latinx. She doesn’t speak Spanish, a fact that doesn’t bother her too much until her Guatemalan cousins move to town, and not fitting in with the other Latinx kids at her new junior high doesn’t help matters. When her parents announce that the family, which includes her 3-year-old brother Memito, is going to Guatemala over winter break, Quijana knows she can’t go and embarrass herself. She resolves to save money and buy a bus ticket to Florida, where her maternal grandmother is going through cancer treatments. Key to her plan is selling the Guatemalan huipil her abuela sent her in order to pay for the trip. Biracial Quijana’s anxieties about her mixed identity, not fitting in, and wanting to find her own way will ring authentic for readers of mixed backgrounds, but her voice skews younger than 12, and preteens may be unconvinced of the sincerity of Quijana’s friendships with her peers compared with her hyperattachment to Grandma, who seems like her real best friend. Spanish phrases are (thankfully) not italicized but are usually translated within a few sentences; appendices include Grandma’s “wise words,” quotations from Don Quixote, titles of poems referenced in the text, directions to a game played, and science notes.

A novel about liminality with little in the way of originality. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6998-9

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

THE WILLOUGHBYS RETURN

From the Willoughbys series

The incompetent parents from The Willoughbys (2008) find themselves thawed by global warming.

Henry and Frances haven’t aged since the accident that buried them in snow and froze them for 30 years in the Swiss Alps. Their Rip van Winkle–ish return is archly comedic, with the pair, a medical miracle, realizing (at last!) how much they’ve lost and how baffled they are now. Meanwhile, their eldest son, Tim, is grown and in charge of his adoptive father’s candy empire, now threatened with destitution by a congressional ban on candy (opposed by an unnamed Bernie Sanders). He is father to 11-year-old Richie, who employs ad-speak whenever he talks about his newest toys, like a remote-controlled car (“The iconic Lamborghini bull adorns the hubcaps and hood”). But Richie envies Winston Poore, the very poor boy next door, who has a toy car carved for him by his itinerant encyclopedia-salesman father. Winston and his sister, Winifred, plan to earn money for essentials by offering their services as companions to lonely Richie while their mother dabbles, spectacularly unsuccessfully, in running a B&B. Lowry’s exaggerated characters and breezy, unlikely plot are highly entertaining. She offers humorous commentary both via footnotes advising readers of odd facts related to the narrative and via Henry and Frances’ reentry challenges. The threads of the story, with various tales of parents gone missing, fortunes lost or never found, and good luck in the end, are gathered most satisfactorily and warmheartedly.

Highly amusing. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-42389-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more