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

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned...

THE HUNGER GAMES

From the Hunger Games series , Vol. 1

Katniss Everdeen is a survivor.

She has to be; she’s representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district. With clear inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the Greek tale of Theseus, Collins has created a brilliantly imagined dystopia, where the Capitol is rich and the rest of the country is kept in abject poverty, where the poor battle to the death for the amusement of the rich. However, poor copyediting in the first printing will distract careful readers—a crying shame. [Note: Errors have been corrected in subsequent printings, so we are now pleased to apply the Kirkus star.]

Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting. (Science fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-439-02348-1

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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