THE SEASON

Jane Austen meets Trixie Belden. Lady Alexandra Stoddard is an anachronism—a feisty, outspoken feminist in Regency England. But the 17-year-old’s impassioned resistance to courtship and marriage rings false from page 23, with the introduction of the ploddingly obvious object of her reluctant but inevitable affections, her brothers’ best friend Gavin Sewell, the Earl of Blackmoor. Alex’s insatiable curiosity further complicates her relationship with Gavin; suspecting that he’s in danger, she’s determined to solve the puzzle of his father’s recent suspicious death, despite Gavin’s objections. Formulaic plotting, repetitive phrasing and scant development of supporting characters, such as Alex’s rival Penelope, weaken the story. But the novel is grounded in both historical context (Napoleon’s escape from Elba and the anonymous publication of Austen’s novels) and historical detail (ball gowns and the rigors of etiquette), which set the scene convincingly. MacLean’s lively characters, however improbable, provide a fun and unrestrained take on a buttoned-up era, and readers who choose to give themselves up to the tale will enjoy it. (Mystery/historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-545-04886-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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