Next book


Tackles important issues with nuance—but pacing lags.

After years of keeping silent in the face of hate, Indian American Lekha Divekar finds her voice.

For all her 11 years, Lekha’s strategy for surviving her mostly white Detroit suburb has been to keep quiet and avoid standing out. Not that it’s done her much good; when her racist classmates aren’t harassing her, they pepper her with questions about her family’s heritage. When a new Indian-immigrant family moves in across the street, Lekha assumes that their daughter, Avantika, will be ill-equipped to cope with the town’s xenophobia. But Lekha couldn’t have been more wrong: Unlike Lekha, Avantika isn’t afraid to stick up for herself. The more Lekha gets to know Avantika, the more she admires her confidence—and the more determined Lekha becomes to find her own voice. Kelkar masterfully develops Lekha’s voice, infusing the protagonist with the perfect balance of curiosity, wit, and insight. Furthermore, she roots the novel in the present by juxtaposing Lekha’s school troubles with local hate crimes and a local congressional election dominated by a far-right candidate. Unfortunately, Lekha does most of her character development in the last third of the book, making the first two-thirds feel more like an increasingly monotonous catalog of complaints than a plot arc. Furthermore, at times, the author’s view can be Hindu-centric, as when she refers to Marathi New Year as an Indian, rather than Hindu, holiday. Overall, though, the book addresses important issues of racism, colorism, and xenophobia through a well-drawn narrator whose political evolution is fascinating to watch.

Tackles important issues with nuance—but pacing lags. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3938-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Next book


From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Next book


A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high...

Two parallel stories, one of a Syrian boy from Aleppo fleeing war, and another of a white American boy, son of a NATO contractor, dealing with the challenges of growing up, intersect at a house in Brussels.

Ahmed lost his father while crossing the Mediterranean. Alone and broke in Europe, he takes things into his own hands to get to safety but ends up having to hide in the basement of a residential house. After months of hiding, he is discovered by Max, a boy of similar age and parallel high integrity and courage, who is experiencing his own set of troubles learning a new language, moving to a new country, and being teased at school. In an unexpected turn of events, the two boys and their new friends Farah, a Muslim Belgian girl, and Oscar, a white Belgian boy, successfully scheme for Ahmed to go to school while he remains in hiding the rest of the time. What is at stake for Ahmed is immense, and so is the risk to everyone involved. Marsh invites art and history to motivate her protagonists, drawing parallels to gentiles who protected Jews fleeing Nazi terror and citing present-day political news. This well-crafted and suspenseful novel touches on the topics of refugees and immigrant integration, terrorism, Islam, Islamophobia, and the Syrian war with sensitivity and grace.

A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high values in the face of grave risk and succeed in drawing goodwill from others. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-30757-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Close Quickview