A tour de force novel with pages that almost seem to turn of their own accord.

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HOW (NOT) TO ASK A BOY TO PROM

A teenager bravely contends with hormones, homosexuality, and high school in this uproarious romantic comedy of errors that breathes new life into the prom story.

Nolan Sheffield just wants to make it through his junior year without making waves and follow his beloved older sister, Daphne, to college. The last thing on his mind is dating. Unfortunately for him, his overprotective big sis has other plans. Before Nolan knows what happened, he has an unexpected prom date, an improbable fake boyfriend—who once bullied him—and no clue how to make sense of the situation. In her second novel, Goslee (Whatever., 2016) combines elements of the 1999 films Never Been Kissed and She’s All That into a delightful teen romp that is as hilarious as it is heartfelt. The author has an undeniable knack for dialogue and description and creates a cast of characters so genuine and amusing that readers will scan their high schools hoping to find them. Nolan’s relationships with his adoptive parents and well-meaning yet meddlesome sister anchor the narrative, creating a portrait of a quirky yet eminently supportive modern family that any gay child would envy. Nolan’s candid conversation with his mom about the birds and the bees demonstrates her unconditional love and provides hope that life may one day reflect art. Nolan and his family are white; scant physical descriptions leave readers speculating about other characters’ ethnicities based on names.

A tour de force novel with pages that almost seem to turn of their own accord. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62672-401-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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