A high-spirited yet bizarrely safe tale of a risky love.

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CROSSING THE LINE

Cartel violence engulfs two teens caught up in an inexplicable summer romance in Mexico.

A scrappy fighter since childhood, Ryan Hess, a white American, devotes himself to boxing, his time in the ring giving him his only sense of peace. After winning the opportunity to train under the direction of a legendary Mexican boxer, Ryan gladly leaves behind his Texas border town along with his emotionally abusive stepfather, who is a corrupt, power-hungry sheriff. Pushed by her family to become a doctor, Dalila Sandoval, a sheltered, affluent Mexican girl, can’t seem to escape her seemingly predestined path. Meeting at a concert and unable to shake their mutual attraction, the pair, of course, soon give in to their respective desires. But when Dalila’s renowned lawyer father gets involved in a turf war between two rival Mexican cartels, the love-struck teens end up in the middle of the power struggle. In her exploration of adolescent love, Elkeles (Wild Cards, 2013, etc.) blends genuine moments of raw passion with indistinct, broad strands of danger, alternating each chapter between Ryan’s and Dalila’s first-person narration. The flimsy character development features underwhelming attempts at interrogating gender roles. Some stilted Spanish phrases also crop up. Equal parts rushed and endearing, this love story concludes with an implausible showdown, lackluster revelations, and a surprisingly bittersweet coda.

A high-spirited yet bizarrely safe tale of a risky love. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-264196-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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