A many-layered story told with a light touch.

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SAINT ANYTHING

After her ne'er-do-well older brother, Peyton, is sent to prison, demure, obedient Sydney leaves her sheltered private school for a new start.

Avoiding her family after her first day at Jackson High School, Sydney fortuitously stops for a snack at Seaside Pizza. There, she meets siblings Mac and Layla, who quickly befriend her. Sydney is drawn into the warm world of their family and the pizza business, and crisp, unusual details bring each character and set of relationships to life. At home, Sydney's mother throws herself obsessively into "supporting" Peyton and pressures Sydney to become as involved in visiting Peyton and talking to him on the phone as she has, without respect to either Sydney's or Peyton's wishes. Although Sydney's mother's character sometimes feels one-note, Sydney's frustration with her mother's willful denial and relative neglect of her is palpable and poignant. This tension shows itself most unsettlingly when Sydney's parents go out of town for a weekend and leave Sydney in the care of Peyton's friend Ames, whose sinister interest in Sydney is clear to everyone who pays attention. Overall, the story moves slowly and subtly, creating a rich emotional landscape and letting small changes—Layla finds a boyfriend; Sydney's mom and brother have a fight—ripple out gently.

A many-layered story told with a light touch. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-451-47470-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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