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Although it includes all the necessary components—lots of fog, a ghostly presence and an alienated teenage girl—this effort...

High school junior Willa’s coastal Maine world has been rocked by tragedy.

Before the beginning of Mitchell’s latest paranormal outing (The Elementals, 2012, etc.), tenacious lobsterwoman Willa enlisted the aid of her younger brother, Levi, to retaliate after another lobsterman repeatedly interfered with her father’s traps. As Willa tells in flashback, when they got back from their trap-destruction foray, the man was waiting on the dock and murdered the boy. Still wracked by grief and guilt, although supported by her boyfriend and her appealingly depicted lesbian best friend, Willa begins to feel the draw of the Grey Man, a mythic, ghostly figure who haunts an offshore lighthouse. Alternating chapters are related by Willa and the Grey Man, who was lured to the island and entrapped a century earlier; he must remain there until he catches 1,000 souls of those who die in or near the sea—or finds a willing replacement to fill his job. As Willa’s world continues to fall apart, that option sometimes seems attractive to her. Mild creepiness and limited suspense result, sustained by lyrical writing that sometimes fails, particularly in Willa’s case, to feel like an authentic voice.

Although it includes all the necessary components—lots of fog, a ghostly presence and an alienated teenage girl—this effort never quite achieves a compelling level of peril and creepiness. (Paranormal fiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-547-85315-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Summery fun and games with feeling.

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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