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AGE 16

An affecting story of family estrangement, body shaming, and the journey to self-acceptance.

A teenager grapples with poor body image and family conflict in her multigenerational immigrant family.

It’s 2000, and 16-year-old Chinese Canadian Rosalind, who lives in Toronto with her single mother, Lydia, is distressed about her weight. It doesn’t help that Lydia labels them “the fat family,” makes disparaging remarks about “big people,” and constantly comments on Roz’s body and food choices. When Roz, who dreams of showing up at prom skinny and wearing a stunning dress, decides to lose weight and Por Por, her maternal grandmother, suddenly visits from Hong Kong, Roz’s conflicts with her mother over her body only increase. Roz is further distressed by Por Por’s cutting remarks and the heightened domestic stress due to her disruptive presence in the household. Seamless flashbacks to both Lydia’s 1970s Hong Kong childhood and Por Por’s young adulthood in 1950s Guangdong, China, shed light on the body shaming and misogyny that they endured, showing the roots of their estrangement and the fierce (if misguided) love that’s still present. Learning about unspoken parts of their family history ultimately helps Roz, Lydia, and Por Por find some measure of peace and understanding. All three are sympathetically and fully portrayed, and Roz’s struggles unfold realistically. The largely monochromatic panels use a shifting color palette to cue each era, allowing Fung to integrate the three colors in a touching and symbolic way in this poignant story’s resolution.

An affecting story of family estrangement, body shaming, and the journey to self-acceptance. (resources, historical note) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781773218335

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Summery fun and games with feeling.

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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