Two love stories for the price of one fun, but predictable, story.

THE ME I MEANT TO BE

Texan best friends Willa and Flor both break “girl code” as they deal with personal crises, heartache, and love.

Sweet, loyal Willa Evans knows how to pretend. She has secretly loved her football-player neighbor Zach Tucker for so long even her bestie, popular, athletic beauty Flor Hidalgo, has no clue. Zach and Flor broke up nine days earlier, and Willa doesn’t want her relief to show. Instead, Willa, Flor, and their rebellious friend Jenna decide to start an “official girl-code manual.” Almost immediately, Willa breaks rule No. 1, “never date a friend’s ex,” when she ends up in a dark closet with Zach, while Flor keeps secrets about her increasingly chaotic home life (her mother abandoned the family, and her single father has started dating someone barely older than she) and her developing feelings for her smart and sexy new math tutor, Grayson O’Malley. While the book will please fans of “friends to more” and “opposites attract” romances, it barely passes the Bechdel test. Willa, who’s white and middle class, and Flor, who’s half-white, half-Mexican and conspicuously rich, talk more about boys and dating than anything substantive. Both love interests are white. The dual perspective may be necessary, but Flor’s narrative is more nuanced and the chemistry in her banter-filled romance more exciting; Willa’s gets steamy too quickly to offer much tension.

Two love stories for the price of one fun, but predictable, story. (Fiction.14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97706-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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