An engaging tale of vulnerability and control.

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HOW TO LIVE ON THE EDGE

A teen reckons with her family’s genetic curse.

In this sweeping bildungsroman, Scheerger (Mitzvah Pizza, 2019, etc.) introduces sisters Cayenne and Saffron Silk, who were orphaned at a young age when their mother succumbed to what they call their family curse and lost her battle with breast cancer. Raised by their aunt, the girls barely remember their mother and have never known the identity of their father. The only certainty in their lives has been the knowledge that, in the last two generations, no woman on their mother’s side has lived past age 37, but a family friend shares a letter from the girls’ mother that reveals more of their history. Scheerger plumbs how growing up with this knowledge has influenced Cay, who seeks to beat death at every turn by engaging in daredevil acts like train dodging and cliff diving with her boyfriend just to get a rush and take control of life. Throughout this action-packed tale, the contrast between Cay’s and Saff’s reactions to their newfound knowledge, as well as their and their aunt’s decisions about whether to get tested for the BRCA gene mutation, yield a revealing study in personal growth and sibling relations. But psychologically probing as Scheerger’s narrative is, it’s maddeningly vague in describing these presumably white, lower-middle-class characters, making it difficult for teens to imagine themselves in similar circumstances.

An engaging tale of vulnerability and control. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7889-0

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.

CODE NAME VERITY

Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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