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THE PRECIOUS DREADFUL

An uneven mix of paranormal mystery and realistic fiction.

A white teenage girl is haunted by disturbing, repressed memories of a childhood friend.

Looking to stave off the boredom of summer vacation, Teddi Alder joins the local library’s teen writing group. Her life becomes unexpectedly complicated by both a new romance with white, crushworthy Aidan and the mysterious appearance of a little girl whom only Teddi sees. Once she begins writing, memories of her long-lost childhood friend Corey seep into her consciousness and her writing. Although she had always thought that Corey’s family moved away when they were young, she discovers, to her horror, that he went missing when he was 7 and that the search for him was soon called off because he was “a couple shades too dark to matter much.” She spends her days and sleepless nights haunted by the twin mysteries of the ghost girl and Corey while juggling an increasingly dysfunctional relationship with Aidan. The writing process helps her to work through her repressed memories of the dark and violent events leading up to Corey’s disappearance, prompting her to question how much her mother knew about what happened. The dialogue among Teddi and her friends isn’t always convincing, and the suspenseful arc of this story is unbalanced by a love triangle that develops erratically and feels out of place in the context of the overall plot.

An uneven mix of paranormal mystery and realistic fiction. (Paranormal mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5072-0277-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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INDIVISIBLE

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

Summery fun and games with feeling.

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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