HORSE THIEF

“It was the horses that held my heart. . . . It was worship.” Tullis Yoder loves horses. A lowly member of the Big Bubb Stampede, a ragged horse show in 1939 Chickalookie, Florida, Tullis is enamored with the life and characters of the almost-rodeo. The chief brag and comic symbol of the show is Big Bubb Nilbut, America’s Biggest Cowboy, weighing in at 500 pounds and riding a Clydesdale horse. When the boss, Mr. Judah St. Jude, gives Tullis a chance to live out his dream and be a bulltopper—trying to go eight seconds atop a bad bull named Gutbuster—Tullis falls a few seconds short and loses half of his right hand. When Big Bubb takes a thunderous tumble off of Clyde and breaks his neck, the show disbands, and Tullis’s beloved horses are destined to be “trucked to a slaughtery, hit in the head by a sledgehammer, and minced into pet meal.” Obviously, Tullis cannot let this be, and the rest of the story becomes a romp, with larger-than-life characters and slapstick action as the 13 horses are rescued and taken on a pilgrimage to safety. Tullis’s scenes are told in first person, the others in third, and the transitions are at times jarring. The best scenes are of Tullis and his attempts at bulltopping glory. Peck’s prose is lively and lavish, with a gift for the humorous image: “The sheriff felt the political image slowly melt off his face and run down his shirtfront. Like spilled supper.” A nobody at the beginning of the story, Tullis is, by the end, a hero, and readers will enjoy following his madcap route to glory. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-623791-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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