Dives into difficult, legitimate issues with great form.

READ REVIEW

THE EASY PART OF IMPOSSIBLE

How do you stand up to abuse from the person who’s always encouraged you to be your best?

Ria is a diver. She’s spent years honing her technique with her longtime coach, Benny, but when she has to withdraw from a critical competition, Benny pulls her from the team. Now, at the start of her senior year and with no contingency plan, Ria feels like she has nothing. Aimless in her Virginia town, she literally runs into childhood friend Cotton, who introduces her to his passion—mapping unexplored local caves. The two already have a shared history from their elementary school special education classes; Ria has ADHD while Cotton shows autistic behaviors and has trauma from the long-ago, unresolved disappearance of his little sister. Their mutual romance is sweet, complicated, painful, and honest—like any other. Ria knows fear from diving, but she must come to terms with Benny’s abuse and find the strength to overcome this other fear. The text explores this sensitively, revealing the way student athletes can feel as if they belong to their coaches as well as the way victims can become trapped by abusers. Readers hear a lot about Benny, but the scenes in which he and Ria are together are scarce, making their relationship more implied than realized until later in the story. Whiteness is assumed as the norm for the cast.

Dives into difficult, legitimate issues with great form. (Fiction. 14-19)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289828-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 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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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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