Readers struggling with self-esteem, loneliness, and isolation will find a kindred spirit in Caroline; others will find...

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FINDING FELICITY

An anxious, lonely introvert discovers that the most fulfilling friendships can’t be planned.

Caroline Sands has always been intensely socially awkward; she’s never been able to cultivate healthy long-term friendships. Several years ago, Caroline and her mother relocated from New York to Arizona, a move the white girl thought would solve her problems. She’d finally make friends and fit in. Sadly, the new high school graduate is as lonely as ever. To appease her worried, overbearing mother, Caroline created a vibrant social life for herself, borrowing characters from the late-1990s TV drama Felicity. In reality, Caroline spends hours snuggled up to her computer watching its reruns. Now that Caroline herself is off to college, she’s determined to become the person she knows she can be—college is her chance to “get it right.” Her plan? Befriend her longtime unrequited love, popular white boy Liam (like Felicity, she chose her college based on the decision of her crush), and his friends will be hers. Predictably, it doesn’t work out that way. Caroline’s melancholic voice narrates the ups and downs of a rarely easy life transition that can be all the more difficult for an anxious introvert like her. While her “coping mechanism” (as her therapist calls it) is comical, the narrative takes Caroline’s anxiety seriously and treats her respectfully.

Readers struggling with self-esteem, loneliness, and isolation will find a kindred spirit in Caroline; others will find empathy for that classmate who sits alone at lunch. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6425-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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