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THE MARVELOUS MIRZA GIRLS

An engaging and perceptive story of love, grief, and personal awakening.

Although Noreen Mirza is graduating high school, the one-year death anniversary of her beloved aunt Sonia Khala dominates her thoughts.

When she learns that her mother will be spending a few months in New Delhi for work, Noreen, a Pakistani American Muslim who aspires to become a screenwriter, defers her college entrance to travel with her to the city that Sonia Khala had dreamed of visiting. In India, Noreen spends time with Kabir, a thoughtful, attractive young filmmaker who takes her to visit ancient Mughal ruins and historic religious sites and is sensitive to her grief. When Kabir’s world is rocked by allegations of his writer father’s sexual misconduct, Noreen supports him even as she confronts her own troubled relationship with her estranged father. She struggles to understand the impact that relationship, along with her fear of further loss, has had on her ability to open herself up to love. Filled with beautiful imagery, sensory language, clever structuring, and humor, this is a romantic coming-of-age story. The author also explores South Asian politics, culture, and history, touching on issues such as Islamophobia, racism, and violence toward women in a complicated country during the #MeToo era. Glimpses of poverty, classism, and the struggles of people living in poverty contrast with the privilege and wealth of Noreen, Kabir, and their elite circle.

An engaging and perceptive story of love, grief, and personal awakening. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284548-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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