Reluctant readers will enjoy exploring Leo’s loyalty to his family and ideals, strong threads woven through the fabric of...

SECOND IN COMMAND

After his mother departs on a six-month tour of duty, 16-year-old Leo, his father, and his younger siblings, Jack and Reina, are left to cope.

Leo is on his way becoming an Eagle Scout, he wants to join the Summer Youth Police Academy, and he is committed to embodying the principles of the Scout Oath. His workaholic father, who is hardly ever home, sees him as the reliable one and gives Leo too much responsibility for the care of his siblings. Leo has always vowed to have Jack’s back, but when the 13-year-old starts acting out and gets in serious trouble, Leo finds it hard to hold up his end of the bargain. He becomes close to Zen, a girl who belongs to their support group for families of deployed military personnel, but that relationship is later put at risk. Leo must figure out how to help his brother while also pursuing his own dreams. In her heartfelt debut novel that explores the challenges facing military families left at home, Van effectively utilizes verse to impeccably convey the feelings of sadness, anger, displacement, and lack of belonging of young people on the brink of adulthood. Leo’s father is a Cuban immigrant, and Zen is Korean-American; other characters are assumed white.

Reluctant readers will enjoy exploring Leo’s loyalty to his family and ideals, strong threads woven through the fabric of this emotional story. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8262-2

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Intervals of intense suspense and a well-crafted puzzle blend to create a thrill ride of a story.

FIVE SURVIVE

Red Kenny and her friends’ spring break road trip veers off course when they are detained by a sniper.

Since her police captain mother’s murder, Red has been inseparable from Maddy Lavoy, though it’s often difficult for Red to witness the warm family dynamics Maddy and her brother, Oliver, share with their mother, an assistant DA and Red’s late mother’s best friend. Red, the Lavoy siblings, and three other friends—Reyna Flores-Serrano, Arthur Moore, and Simon Yoo—embark in a borrowed RV on a journey to Gulf Shores but instead find themselves in the crosshairs of a long-range rifle held by a man demanding that one of them reveal an important secret. As Red battles internally with her guilt and grief over her mother’s death, her companions become increasingly volatile and paranoid as the group tries to discern whose secret is the one the hostage taker is after. The sometimes-tedious, sometimes-intense moment-by-moment breakdown of events in the 31-foot RV (that seems much smaller as the night wears on) magnifies the claustrophobia. Subtle indications that no one can really be trusted alternate with mind-blowing revelations. Toxic masculinity is often at war with common sense and good judgment, and moral ambiguity abounds. Red, Arthur, and the Lavoy siblings read White; Reyna is Mexican American, and Simon is cued as biracial (Korean and White). (This review has been updated to correct a character’s name.)

Intervals of intense suspense and a well-crafted puzzle blend to create a thrill ride of a story. (maps) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37416-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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