Interesting questions about mental health and self-awareness are sacrificed in favor of a too-tidy happily-ever-after ending...

THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN

Natalie hopes a summer Shakespeare program will offer stability, but instead, her belief in rumors of a theater ghost suggests her schizophrenic delusions may be worsening.

A recent delusional episode resulted in the white teen’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, from which her grandmother also suffers. Initially, Natalie is determined to use medication and other treatment techniques to avoid future schizophrenic episodes. But she also longs to be a carefree teen, prompting her concealment of her diagnosis from her new (apparently mostly white) theater friends—resulting in alcohol consumption and missed medication doses. Consequently, Natalie’s increasingly fearful reactions to rumors of a theater ghost seem plausibly related to her mental health diagnosis. Readers will struggle with Natalie as she evaluates her own mental stability, especially as her grandmother’s intensifying delusions add terror to the schizophrenia diagnosis. Unfortunately, a less interesting storyline involving a dull romance with Lucas, the handsome white boy Natalie recognizes from the mental health treatment facility, soon takes center stage. Her declarations of falling in love seem unfounded and premature. A potentially interesting reveal gets lost in several other characters’ abruptly shifting attitudes and behaviors—especially the grandmother’s sudden delivery of sage advice about the power of love. That this Savannah, Georgia–set tale seems to have no significant African-American characters is a real shame.

Interesting questions about mental health and self-awareness are sacrificed in favor of a too-tidy happily-ever-after ending and poorly realized setting . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0356-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This joyful romance is both sweet and substantial.

WHAT IF IT'S US

Fan-favorites Albertalli (Leah on the Offbeat, 2018, etc.) and Silvera (They Both Die at the End, 2017, etc.) join forces in this tale of a New York City summer romance.

When Ben and Arthur cross paths at a post office but fail to exchange contact information, they both regret the missed connection. Through mutual efforts and a healthy dose of coincidence, the boys find each other again. A rocky series of do-over first dates proves that they are different in many ways—Arthur is a white, Jewish, show tune–loving, Southern boy with ADHD who has never been kissed and dreams of attending Yale. Ben, on the other hand, is a Puerto Rican, Catholic, native New Yorker recovering from a recent breakup who is self-conscious about attending summer school and writes a novel in his spare time. However, the boys have one important thing in common—they’re both willing to believe in the universe’s bringing them together. Their alternating narration, chock-full of witty banter and pop-culture references, also delves into themes of identity and the complexities of relationships, both romantic and platonic. In particular, Arthur’s jealousy over Ben’s ex-boyfriend raises discussions of whether past relationships should be regretted or embraced. Central to the narrative are Arthur’s and Ben’s friends, who are diverse and richly drawn, and the boys’ parents, who encourage their relationship.

This joyful romance is both sweet and substantial. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279525-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Will appeal to fans of fast-moving fantasy adventures.

CAST IN FIRELIGHT

From the Wickery series , Vol. 1

Pledged to each other since childhood, Adraa and Jatin navigate the complex politics of their respective kingdoms.

Adraa is the heir to Belwar, and while powerful in most types of magic, she has yet to take the royal ceremony to prove her competency in all nine forms and, with it, her right to someday rule. With half its population Untouched by the Gods—unable to use magic—Belwar struggles with inequities between the Touched and Untouched, reminiscent of societal class divisions. Adraa’s strong sense of duty to her people leads her to fight against the corruption within her kingdom. Jatin, heir to their more magical neighbor Naupure, has spent years polishing his nine colors of magic at the academy, away from the realities of ruling. He and Adraa compare their magical prowess and progress through letters. When Jatin finally leaves the academy, a series of mishaps results in both of them hiding their true identities even as they grow closer in their fight against a ruthless gang. This intricate world with magic-fueled, action-packed fight scenes and snarky, colloquial banter is loosely infused with Asian Indian cultural references. The story also discusses questions of gender inequality, freedom, self-worth, and identity. Adraa and Jatin both have black hair; in contrast to the cover image, the text makes clear that Adraa is very dark-skinned while Jatin has lighter brown skin.

Will appeal to fans of fast-moving fantasy adventures. (deities and their powers, author’s note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12421-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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