Though it doesn’t blaze new trails, it’s an enjoyable-enough ride.

READ REVIEW

THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Road-trip rebellion with romance.

A sophomore at the mostly girls’ boarding school where his mother is headmistress, Andrew is not living up to his potential. Not that he’s cared about much of anything since his parents split up, but when pushed too far at Thanksgiving, he runs away from home. At the bus station, Andrew hooks up with an unusual group of young folks who are traveling in a van and living effectively hand to mouth with what they can muster from busking, Dumpster diving and handouts. With the Freegans, as they call themselves, he journeys from home in upstate New York to New Mexico. While it’s not a particularly new plot, the characters become compelling. There’s anarchist Lyle, who is hiding something. Pudgy Asian-American Tim is an odd addition to a troupe of acrobats. G, the lesbian who first approaches Andrew, is ironically the straightest of the bunch, while Jesse, the driver, leader and master of ceremonies, is always positive and inclusive. However, it’s Emily, with her blonde dreadlocks and bare stomach, who captures Andrew’s attention and lust. The dynamics of the group, combined with quirky characters met along the way, provide a certain fascination for both readers and Andrew. Readers captivated by the characters will have a chance to appreciate Andrew’s somewhat slow growth from a wimp with a dick into someone with a spine and a brain.

Though it doesn’t blaze new trails, it’s an enjoyable-enough ride. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0262-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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