Portrays rich cultural details and displays significant research but needs more character depth and conflict.

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ENDLESS LIFE

Deol’s debut novel chronicles an Indian woman’s personal journey across cultural boundaries.

When the parents of Malti, a young Indian woman, marry her to an Indian doctor and send her to New York, she finds herself adrift in a foreign land, struggling to find her place. In a loveless marriage, Malti yearns for a child, but when she becomes pregnant, her husband announces he has always been in love with another woman, and he abandons her. Thus begins Malti’s evolution from a sheltered girl to a strong, independent single mother who uses her dedication to her son and her career to hide the depth of her hurt. The novel follows Malti through four decades—from America to India and back again—and Malti’s son, Amit, as he experiences his first love. After spending his youth obsessing over a fantasy woman that will complete his soul, the fully Americanized young man finds the woman he considers his soul mate during a work retreat on Cape Cod. Nursing a bizarre obsession, he zealously pursues Zeena, a traditional Indian woman from Bangalore. Zeena’s capitulation to his pursuit and their resulting romance feels forced and unrealistic, though the interplay of their different societal traditions is interesting and well-researched. The novel explores the conflict between Indian and American cultures, as well as the complexities of Islamic extremists and different Muslim sects. Although the underlying theme of the story is Malti’s journey, we don’t learn enough about who she is as a person. Secondary characters are intriguing, including Malti’s grandmother and her hopeful beau, but are also incompletely realized. Occasionally, conflicts resolve too easily. For example, when Malti attempts to change the beliefs of a young Muslim father who has taken up with the Islamic extremists, she finds little resistance, and a chance to explore complicated issues is lost.

Portrays rich cultural details and displays significant research but needs more character depth and conflict.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1936085651

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Decent Hill

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2013

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

MALICE

This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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