A moving love story, timely given the pervasiveness of mental health crises.

WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU

Summer romance interrupts a teen girl’s focused path to a Ph.D.

Devon has wanted to become an astrophysicist since she was a kid; one night of watching the stars on a camping trip to Yellowstone and she fell in love. With her sights set on a competitive, top-notch college program, Devon prioritizes school above everything else. The summer she is 16, while visiting the beach with her cousin, Devon meets Ashton, and suddenly she has two loves—astronomy and him. However, on what should be their final day together, Ashton never shows. A year passes with no word, and then, on the first day of senior year, Ashton reappears. He reveals that he suffers from depression and that his wealthy white family’s pressure to be someone he is not and to leave Devon because she is middle-class and biracial (her mom is black and her dad is white) overwhelmed him. The pair reunite, but Ashton’s depression and mental health struggles increase, and Devon is left trying to choose where to focus her energy—school or boyfriend. Astronomy facts are interspersed throughout the text, demonstrating Devon’s obsession, but never interrupt the narrative. Debut author Davis provides a new take on the archetypal first love novel by tackling the impact of mental health, race, and class wars.

A moving love story, timely given the pervasiveness of mental health crises. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-49070-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

LEGENDBORN

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Black whiz kid Bree Matthews battles grief and demonic forces on her college campus.

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree begins a residential program for enterprising teens at her mother’s alma mater and, soon after her arrival, witnesses a magical attack that triggers hidden memories about the evening her mother was killed. Haunted by the fact that their final conversation was an argument, Bree begins a redemptive quest to uncover the connection between her mother’s death and the university’s secret society, the Order of the Round Table, joining their ranks as an initiate and unwittingly stumbling into a centuries-old supernatural war. While competing in the tournament that determines entry to the society, Bree discovers the truth about her heretofore unknown magical abilities, unwinding a complex history that showcases the horrors chattel slavery in the American South perpetuates on the descendants of all involved. Push through clunky expositions and choppy transitions that interrupt the cohesion of the text to discover solid character development that brings forward contemporary, thoughtful engagement with the representation, or lack thereof, of race in canonical Arthurian lore and mythologies. Representation of actualized, strong queer characters is organic, not forced, and so are textual conversations around emotional wellness and intergenerational trauma. Well-crafted allusions to established legends and other literary works are delightful easter eggs.

Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling. (author's note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4160-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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