A heartwarming YA story of love and entering the unknown territories of adulthood.

LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES

In this debut novel about love and coming-of-age, Alexander explores the heartbreaking themes of first love, illness, attachment and loss.

Teenage Charlie has life down to a science. A math and science whiz, his life is certain and exact, until he encounters a year that turns things upside down. A new cast of characters enters Charlie’s life, beginning with the new English teacher in town, Ms. Finch, who is tall, young, beautiful and eccentric. With her, Charlie and his classmates have to learn to bend their notions of literature’s irrelevance and begin to explore the right sides of their brains. Along with this new challenge comes Charlotte, a mysterious friend of Charlie’s sister, Becca, who appears at his home one afternoon and steals his heart. Charlie’s attraction for Charlotte grows, but so does his realization that Charlotte needs something more than a swooning teenage boy in her life—she needs a friend, and a loyal one. The author spins this tale in colorful language that grips the reader from the start. Each character is vividly described with images and sounds that hang in the mind: “perfect donut” mouths, calf-hugging skinny jeans, smirks, blinks and clever dialogue. Within the first few chapters, readers will be captivated by this eclectic group of young souls who are desperately trying to understand life, love, literature and their own futures. Readers will appreciate Alexander’s poetic style, her mastery of tension, and the use of concrete imagery to depict the angst, passion and confusion these characters feel about the unknowns of leaving for college in a year. In one scene, Greta and James, friends of Charlie, discuss the fact that the crew may be split up after graduation. Charlie lovingly responds, “A year is a long time...twelve months, fifty-two weeks, three hundred sixty-five days, eight thousand seven hundred sixty hours.” The characters’ quirky affinities—Charlie’s for math, Charlotte’s for drawing, Ms. Finch’s for literature—paint a world of passion and personality.

A heartwarming YA story of love and entering the unknown territories of adulthood.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1622664672

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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