A well-plotted, harrowing journey and an engaging, worthwhile read.

MALINI

From the Through My Eyes series

A young Tamil teen flees into the forest near her home in Satham, Sri Lanka, in this entry in UNICEF's Through My Eyes series, which explores through fiction the lives of young people in flash points around the world.

Amid the terror of being forcibly led through town by Tamil Tiger soldiers who intend to use them as human shields in the resistance war they are waging against the Sinhalese majority, Hindu Malini and her spoiled younger sister, Banni, are suddenly urged by their beloved father to run on their own for the cover of the trees. Their experience over the next several weeks is filled with peril and self-discovery. An unexpected camaraderie develops between them and three other escaped children, Nanda, Amal, and Gayan, all Sinhalese Buddhists, whom they meet along the way. Set during the wave of sectarian violence that flared after a U.N.–supported cease-fire effort failed in 2009, this tale of survival will pull readers in. Pop-culture references to Miley Cyrus and Bart Simpson are juxtaposed effectively, if sometimes a little obviously, against a reality that will be unimaginable to most Western young people and also blend with elucidating descriptions of Sri Lankan cultural details.

A well-plotted, harrowing journey and an engaging, worthwhile read. (author's note, glossary, historical timeline, map) (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-74336-802-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This royal romp comes together for a strong finish.

TOKYO EVER AFTER

A Japanese American teen searches for her father—who turns out to be the crown prince of Japan.

Kind and “remarkably unremarkable,” Izumi Tanaka enjoys the support of her single mother and high school friends in her hometown of Mount Shasta, California. Her grades are “subpar at best,” and she’s been accepted into decent, but not exclusive, colleges. She acknowledges that her love of Real Housewives and dabbling in baking, while relatable, are not exceptional. After searching for her father and discovering the shocking news of his identity, Izumi is invited to Japan to stay with the royal family for two weeks. Dubbed the Lost Butterfly princess, she is swept up in royal life, complete with all its intrigue. The romance of being a princess—complete with a hot, young bodyguard, Akio—quickly dissipates as tabloids, cultural differences, and a serious blunder at the Japanese prime minister’s wedding take their toll. While the action-packed plot keeps pages turning, inconsistencies in Izumi’s voice are distracting, and her character development lacks cohesion. More slow-building tension would have given her romantic encounters with Akio a bigger payoff. However, the novel hits its stride in the second half as Izumi returns to the States and focuses on her personal growth and evolving relationships with each of her parents, developments that are thoughtfully fleshed out.

This royal romp comes together for a strong finish. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76660-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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