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THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY

Traumatized by their loss, 17-year-old Drew bides his time working in the kitchen of a suburban hospital. He lives in an...

A homeless, gay teen finds shelter and hope in the hospital where his family perished.

Traumatized by their loss, 17-year-old Drew bides his time working in the kitchen of a suburban hospital. He lives in an abandoned wing and slips in and out of the halls and staff-only areas under the pretense that his grandmother is in a coma. He befriends two teens sick with cancer and finds himself opening up and falling for a gay teen admitted into the emergency room after being set on fire in a hate crime. At the same time Drew pens a gruesome comic strip called “Patient F” to exorcise his own demons and guilt; drawn by Larsen, this effectively communicates his interior turmoil, heightening it to near-grotesque levels over the course of the story. Hutchinson builds believable secondary characters and presents unexpectedly fresh plotting and genuine repartee—the conversations among Drew and his two teen friends feel particularly real and are full of insight and humor. Hutchinson has trouble finding Drew’s own voice, however, both in the text and in the comics he draws, especially when he retreats into his own depression (“The hospital is my ocean. I am its Francis Drake”). However, the story resumes its momentum when he encounters other characters. A cautionary twist toward the end may induce eye-rolling. Hutchinson remains an author worth watching. (Fiction. 13-17) .

Hutchinson remains an author worth watching(Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0310-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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