UNION

Moving and accessible.

Ninth grader Tuck grapples with trauma from his past while crushing on Grace and trying to enroll co-workers in a union.

Tuck takes a job in a fast-food joint to get out of his house, where he feels shame and self-loathing. As he begins dating longtime classmate Grace, readers access glimpses into Tuck’s memories of sexual abuse from his mother’s old boyfriend. He feels unworthy of Grace’s love at first, putting off telling her his history. His background also seems to give him a sense of imposter syndrome, resulting in self-harm. When a woman named Trix approaches him at the drive-thru window and talks to him about unionizing, Tuck feels empowered and decides to recruit co-workers to fight for their rights. This brief verse novel packs a punch: The poems are concise yet robust and convey a change in tone from sobering and intense to hopeful. Trix is a mother figure of sorts, picking up on Tuck’s anxiety and helping him find counseling. Tuck’s subsequent evolution—both in his relationship with Grace and as a harbinger for advancement in work conditions—makes him a sympathetic, courageous character worthy of kudos. Other characters are primarily in the background, as the character-driven story centers Tuck. Cast members are minimally described and largely default to White.

Moving and accessible. (content warning) (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4598-3447-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

OUT OF CHARACTER

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod.

Can a 17-year-old with her first girlfriend prevent real-life folks from discovering her online fandoms?

Cass is proudly queer, happily fat, and extremely secretive about being a fan who role-plays on Discord. Back in middle school, she had what she calls a gaming addiction, playing “The Sims” so much her parents had to take the game away. Now, turning to her role-play friends to cope with her fighting parents, she worries that people will judge her for her fannishness and online life. To be fair, her grades are suffering. And sure, maybe she’s missed a college application deadline. Also, her mom has suddenly left Minneapolis and moved to Maine to be with a man she met online. But on the other hand, Cass is finally dating her amazingly cute longtime crush, Taylor. Pansexual Taylor is a gamer, a little bit punk, White like Cass, and so, so great—but she still can’t help comparing her to Rowan, Cass’ online best friend and role-playing ship partner. But Rowan doesn’t want to be a dirty little secret and doesn’t see why Cass can’t be honest about this part of her life. The inevitable train wreck of her lies looms on the horizon for months in an overlong morality play building to the climax that includes tidy resolutions to all the character arcs that are quite heartwarming but, in the case of Cass’ estranged mother, narratively unearned.

Despite the well-meaning warmth, a wearying plod. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-324332-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

10 BLIND DATES

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Close Quickview