IZZY + TRISTAN by Shannon Dunlap


Age Range: 14 - 18
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“Izzy” (short for Iseult), a white Irish-American aspiring future doctor, and Tristan, a Trinidadian-American chess prodigy, become caught up in a risky love polygon.

Izzy moves to Brooklyn from Manhattan and has to adjust to her new life and the increased distance she feels from her twin brother. Tristan plays chess in the park at the behest of his cousin, Marcus, who makes money from Tristan’s wins. Hours before the two lovers meet, complicated events lead Marcus to ask Tristan to be his wingman as he woos Izzy. Later, Tristan and Izzy end up hiding their relationship from everyone—or trying to. The consequences of their deception are broken relationships and body parts. Tristan has to make some tough choices, finding that sometimes events are set in motion that we cannot control. Flowery language does nothing to hide an unbelievable romance, and some characters feel flat, seemingly introduced purely for foreshadowing and plot advancement. The topic of race in this interracial romance is not explored sufficiently, and a scene (and subsequent conversation between Tristan and his aunt) in which Izzy's brother threatens Tristan with a knife following a chess match resulting in the arrival of the police shows a lack of understanding of the experience of black families with law enforcement.

This updated version of the medieval classic disappoints. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-316-41538-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2019


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