A coming-of-age novel that offers a sensitive take on familial alcoholism.

ANCHORED TOGETHER

In Garrison’s YA sequel, a high school girl falls in love and deals with an alcoholic father.

This follow-up to The Anchor Clankers (2017) takes place in 1972, a year after 16-year-old Suzette LeBlanc moved from Massachusetts to Florida. Her father is the commandant of the Sanford Naval Academy, a private boarding school for boys, and the family lives in an apartment below the midshipmen’s dorm. The previous year, Suzette made friends with several “Anchor Clankers,” as naval students are called. She finds herself attracted to 18-year-old academy senior John Elliott, and they share something in common: Their fathers are both problem drinkers, and both teens understand what it’s like to walk on eggshells, never knowing what might set off a tirade or cause public embarrassment. As their romance heats up, Suzette and John find a sense of refuge in each other. They pledge to stay a couple when John goes off to college, but their love is threatened by his family’s disapproval and by the jealousy of John’s so-called friend Gary. Suzette must make some grown-up decisions about what’s best for the relationship while also realizing that she can’t be responsible for her dad’s actions. Garrison takes what could be a simple tale of first love and gives it depth by delving into the serious issue of alcoholism, particularly how it can cause disturbing personality changes in loved ones. In one scene, for example, Suzette’s father drunkenly insists on tickling her foot, gripping her ankle tight enough to hurt her; although the action isn’t floridly abusive, it understandably helps to cement her desire to leave home. Unusually but realistically, this isn’t a recovery narrative; by the end of the novel, Suzette hasn’t followed through on her intention to attend a group for children of alcoholic parents, for example. A few anachronisms detract from the 1972 setting, such as the existence of videotapes and a snarky reference to the “circle of life” from the 1994 film The Lion King.

A coming-of-age novel that offers a sensitive take on familial alcoholism.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950075-15-7

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Documeant Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

THE NOBLEMAN'S GUIDE TO SCANDAL AND SHIPWRECKS

From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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