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Both earnest and nuanced without seeking causes or cures

A 16-year-old English girl with too much anxiety to speak in public makes a new friend.

Steffi no longer identifies as selectively mute, though she still finds it nearly impossible to speak in public. She’s currently diagnosed with a range of anxiety and communication disorders: healthier but still fragile. And Tem, her sole childhood friend, has switched schools, leaving her alone. Nevertheless, Steffi’s been doing cognitive behavioral therapy and has started medication; she’s determined to make this the year when she speaks in school. A teacher introduces Steffi to a new boy at school, Rhys, because he’s deaf, and Steffi knows a little British Sign Language. A very little—Steffi’s BSL and Rhys’ lip reading are adequate, but as their friendship grows, they switch fluidly among sign, fingerspelling, writing, and texts. Her deepening relationship with Rhys is exciting, but is he with her only because she speaks BSL? Steffi’s improving mental health might enable her to go to university despite parental ambivalence, but her expanding social life alienates her from Tem. There’s broad representation in this romantic coming-of-age novel: of perception of disability (Steffi wants to be “normal,” Rhys wouldn’t choose to hear); of family support (Steffi’s infantalizing mum, Rhys’ BSL–fluent family); of a racially diverse community (Steffi’s white, Tem’s black, Rhys is biracial black/white, and their community is realistically diverse).

Both earnest and nuanced without seeking causes or cures . (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0241-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Smoothly written and packed with (perhaps too many) challenging issues, Hoyle’s debut may feel a bit glib and predictable to...

A teenager with epilepsy who has recently lost her father to cancer overcomes the depression induced by grief and illness as she acclimates to attending public school for the first time in several years and finds a boyfriend.

Home-schooled and reluctant to engage with strangers, Emilie spends her spare time reading, cuddling with her therapy dog, Hitch, and playing board games with Cindy, her 8-year-old neighbor. Forced to begin classes at the local high school, Emilie is determined to remain aloof. A smart, creative girl named Ayla and a hot (and very nice) boy named Chatham befriend her, making it hard to stay distant and self-contained. Conflicts with her mother, who is just beginning to date, and concern about the potential embarrassment of having a seizure at school further complicate Emilie’s life. Miserable and self-absorbed, Emilie is exceedingly articulate. Indeed, her first-person narration sometimes sounds older than her years, particularly when describing her crush. Extended metaphors abound, most involving water. That’s logical given the Outer Banks setting and Emilie’s fears, but they slow the flow of the plot and contribute to the not entirely believable tone. Emilie seems to be white, and so does her world, aside from the occasional student of color.

Smoothly written and packed with (perhaps too many) challenging issues, Hoyle’s debut may feel a bit glib and predictable to some readers; others will swoon over the dreamy Chatham and root for Emilie to come out of her shell. (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-310-75851-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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