A MAD, WICKED FOLLY

An enjoyable historical romp.

Vicky Darling is the rebellious, artistically talented daughter of a wealthy plumbing magnate, coming of age in Edwardian England at the height of the women’s suffrage movement.

The title ironically references Queen Victoria’s condemnation of “… this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights’ with all its attendant horrors on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety.” Vicky’s personal struggles to become a respected artist are paralleled with those of the suffragists with whom she becomes closely involved when her arranged marriage with a wealthy scion of a well-bred family falls apart and she is cut off from the family finances. Vicky finally finds true reward when she is accepted into the Royal College of Art on her own merits. Her lower-class lover and sometime “undraped” art model, police constable Will Fletcher, finally agrees to an artistic partnership publishing the “tuppenny novelettes” he writes and she illustrates. Although the modern dialogue is jarring at times and the plot somewhat implausible, the narrative moves swiftly along, and the historical background is painted credibly and with a light touch. The moving and authentic portrayal of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters will engage readers with an interest in the history of the women’s movement. Author’s notes at the end of the book on Edwardian life, the women’s movement and the Pre-Raphaelite art movement, on which much of the fine art thread in the book is based, are helpful in establishing the context of the novel.

An enjoyable historical romp. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-01468-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

INDIVISIBLE

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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