An adolescent adventure that touches on authentic, relatable issues of love and friendship.

WALKING AWAY FROM TEXAS

In Bradley’s debut YA novel, an angst-filled, teenage girl navigates the uncertain line between friendship and true love.

Katie finds herself in a crisis of the heart when she discovers she might be in love with her lifelong best friend, Alan. The dialogue-rich story commences during the last year of high school, that pivotal time in adolescence, and describes with clarity the roller coaster of emotions that come along with saying goodbye to the only friends Katie knows. She doesn’t welcome the difficulties in choosing an uncertain future away from everything that is near and dear. She’s a pretty girl in her suburban Houston town—she models in her free time—and her social circle includes the head cheerleader, the star football player and Alan, her best friend, who rivals the others in his good looks and smooth talk. Despite their popular position in school and a picture-perfect home life, Katie is restless. She aspires to pursue modeling and acting in Los Angeles, but she’s forced to stay in Texas for college. Also, her ex-boyfriend, Matt, dumps her without warning, tainting her trust in men. The one man she clearly loves throughout the book is Alan, but as the story progresses, the reader learns right alongside Katie that she loves him more than just a friend. “I asked my heart and mind if I did the right thing by letting go of Alan and denying my burgeoning feelings for him,” she says. Her affections aren’t returned, though, so she mourns as Alan and the woman he loves move away to Florida for college. After continued persistence, including running to Florida to pledge her devotion to Alan, Katie realizes that she needs to learn to move on; she tries to focus her romantic attention elsewhere. It’s unclear if she’ll be able to discover the type of love she’s looking for in a person, but she directs her heart toward Hollywood, where she hopes to find a successful, happy future. “You know that I’m always looking for something bigger and better,” she says.

An adolescent adventure that touches on authentic, relatable issues of love and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2004

ISBN: 978-0595326723

Page Count: 110

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2012

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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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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