A romance that tackles serious issues with mixed results.


A naïve girl is forced to reconcile truths she thought she knew with the reality of the boy she loves.

Returning to Colorado from New York City, where she said her goodbyes to her long-term boyfriend, Amoris Westmore, a 17-year-old White girl, is looking forward to nothing more than resuming her normal life. That is until her mother drops the bombshell that their new tenants are their old friends Kaydene Rush and her son, Jamison, a Black family who has moved back to the area. Jamison’s presence prompts Amoris to forge her own path—opening her eyes to the complex world around her, she sees the flaws in her self-proclaimed progressive town, her family, and herself. Attempting to prove herself to Jamison as she wrestles with her new understanding of race, she goes after a patriotic school mural that depicts a slave ship, in the process putting Jamison, one of the few Black students, in a vulnerable position. Now Amoris must come to terms with the impact of her actions without losing the boy she loves. Amoris is a realistically flawed protagonist facing her own selfish tendencies. Unfortunately, the book’s treatment of the complexities of race often comes across as forced despite a few gems about confronting privilege. Ultimately, however, racism feels like a minor obstacle in the way of a greater love story.

A romance that tackles serious issues with mixed results. (author's note, reading group guide) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1964-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.


Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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