Sensitive and deeply moving: outstanding.

WONDERFUL FEELS LIKE THIS

Fifteen-year-old Steffi Herrera feels the beat of jazz in her soul, but is that enough to sustain her against her classmates’ relentless bullying?

Returning home from school, she overhears jazz emanating from a window and follows the sound to the retirement-home room of Alvar, nearly 90 and a former jazz musician. These two unlikely friends gradually reveal their stories, Steffi of her music and Alvar of his experiences as a country boy trying to make his way in the jazz world of World War II Stockholm. Steffi’s father is Cuban; her Caribbean roots make her stand out in her small Swedish town, where she’s a lightning rod for her brutal classmates, who insult her, spit on her, and otherwise make her life at school a torment. Achingly talented, she withdraws into her music but suffers nonetheless, her misery blended with her older sister’s, confused by wakening lesbian feelings. Inviting transitions smoothly shift readers into diffident Alvar’s parallel story, as he acquires jazz band experience and tries to find a way to make attractive, charming Anita fall in love with him. A deliberate pace enhances the carefully nuanced progress of Alvar’s relationship with Anita but also with her latter-day alter ego, Steffi, although the aging musician’s connection with her is as a desperately needed mentor. The translation from Swedish is smooth, and the culture, though different, will feel recognizable and relevant to American readers.

Sensitive and deeply moving: outstanding. (Fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09523-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

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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