The politics of skin color in the black community: Brilliant Sarah, one year into Juilliard, is trying to mend her long friendship with blue-eyed Cathy; but Cathy, now involved with a group of lighter-skinned friends and jealous of Sarah's talents, adamantly rejects her. Still, when Cathy's mother, Clarice, invites Sarah to Cape Cod for a summer vacation, Sarah accepts despite her own mother's anger at Clarice's and Cathy's betrayal of their relationship. Cathy's grandmother—who inherited her elegant Cape Cod home from Quaker friends—takes Sarah under her wing, but Cathy and her friends continue, viciously, to ostracize her. Meanwhile, charismatic Martinican Madame Armand and her handsome son Jean Pierre, whose business usually keeps him in Africa, join the house party. When Cathy's friends literally try to drown Sarah, Jean Pierre is just in time to rescue her; their growing attraction is explicitly consummated, but Sarah elects Juilliard rather than marriage. A flawed—and very uneven—book, beginning with amateurishly lengthy explanations and burdened with stilted writing; Cathy's jealousy is so overdrawn that Sarah's continuing affection for her is not credible—nor is Sarah's apparent lack of friends at Juilliard. Even the potential message about self-realization is subverted: Sarah's final decision is based on family loyalty, not love for her music. Still, Sarah herself is appealing and her antagonists' rage chillingly believable, while the overriding motif—that a caste system based on skin is tragically destructive—is vital and compelling. Significantly, Sarah is reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (1970), a more trenchant exploration of the same theme. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-30599-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1992

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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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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.


A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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