An intriguing mix of a whodunit and social commentary on the tragic and all-too-common problems of bullying and teen suicide.

ARE YOU STILL THERE

Following a bomb threat at a high school, an anonymous hotline is set up to gather leads and provide students with emotional support.

Two years after a much-bullied girl tragically hanged herself, Central High is rocked when an angst-ridden student litters the school with threatening notes in the form of eerily defaced playing cards. Gabi, a straight-A senior, goody-two-shoes, and model citizen, is chosen to be on the student hotline team. Here, she forms relationships with several kids outside her usual circle—one of them being Miguel, a mysterious and flirty outsider to whom she finds herself increasingly attracted. The team begins receiving creepy calls and texts, and when the bomber begins leaving notes for Gabi, she realizes that she's a target, but she has no idea why. She doesn't want to tell her detective father about the notes because she's afraid he and her zealously overprotective mother will pull her out of Central. Meanwhile Gabi is worried about her depressed and rebellious sister, Chloe, and Chloe's friend, who seems morbidly fascinated with the gun their father keeps in the house. Interspersed through Gabi’s present-tense narration are sad, desperate, and sinister diary entries from the suspect, leaving readers to attempt to suss out clues as to their author. Here, everyone's a suspect.

An intriguing mix of a whodunit and social commentary on the tragic and all-too-common problems of bullying and teen suicide. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4557-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

STAY GOLD

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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